The Court of Appeal in Abuja has set aside the June 24, 2021 ruling by Justice Suleiman Belgore of the High Court of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) attaching funds standing to the credit of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Polaris Bank Ltd. Justice Belgore had, in the ruling, issued a garnishee order absolute, attaching N31,534,918.25 in PDP’s account No: 1770319690 held by Polaris Bank in partial settlement of a judgment debt owed to two lawyers – Sam Adams and Omale Ojonye.
The lawyers had initiated the garnishee proceedings marked: FCT/HC/CV/8781/2020, before the High Court of the FCT for the recovery of a total judgment debt of N71,914,918.25 (made up of a judgment sum of 71,380,000.00, cost of N100,000.00 and accrued 5 per cent interest of N434,918.25) as per a judgment of the Court of Appeal, Makurdi division, delivered on June 9, 2020. In his ruling on June 24, 2021, Justice Belgore held that the appellant (Polaris Bank) failed to show cause why the garnishee order nisi should not be made absolute.
He proceeded to make the order nisi absolute, attaching N31,000,000 against the bank, together with the cost of the proceedings at N100,000 and accrued 5 per cent interest as at the date of the order iisi in the sum of N434,918.25. Dissatisfied, Polaris Bank lodged an appeal marked: CA/ABJ/CV/543/2021, an appeal a three-member panel of the Court of Appeal in Abuja allowed in its judgment delivered on August 19, 2022 a copy of which The sighted on Friday.
In the lead judgment, Justice Stephen Adah upheld the arguments by appellant’s lawyer, O. S. Kehinde, to the effect that the trial judge erred in making the garnishee order nisi absolute against Polaris Bank. Justice Adah held that Justice Belgore was wrong to have ignored a ruling exhibited by Polaris Bank, to the effect, that an earlier order of attachment had been made on the same account by another judge of the High Court of the FCT in suit No: FCT/HC/CV/241 /2015 between Minbase Konsult Ltd v. PDP & six others.
The judge further held that “the attached ruling of the earlier court was enough for the trial court to know that there was an attachment of the fund with the appellant (Polaris Bank).“Furthermore, the attachment of the fund was by the earlier court order. The trial court was wrong to issue another order attaching part of the money, which by all signification, is no longer available for further deal.The responsibility bestowed on the trial court by Sheriffs and Civil Process Act is as per Sections 88, 89 and 90 thereof. These sections are very plain and easy to understand.
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