*Says He Instituted 4 Actions Against The State Based On Fake And Empty Judgments
*Illegal And Unlawful Use Of Court Process, Will Destroy The Integrity Of Our Judicial System

Nasarawa State government has accused lawyer, Okpale S. Ojikpa of professional misconduct.

This was disclosed in a letter to the Chief Judge, FCT High Court, with Ref NO: NS/MOJ/LEG/10/VOL.III/140, dated 1st December, and signed by the state Honourable Attorney General/Commissioner for Justice, Dr. Abdulkarim A Kana, Associate Professor of Law.

The letter made available to TheNigerialawyer on Wednesday stated that Okpale S. Ojikpa used fake court judgments to obtain Garnishee orders from various Courts in Abuja.

The AG who described this as illegal and unlawful use of court process, informed TheNigerialawyer, that the state will be filing a petition at the Legal Practitioners Disciplinary Committee,(LPDC) against the lawyer.

However, TNL gathered that Okpale was arrested on the 29th of November, with a warrant at the court premises.

He was arraigned in CMC 3, Lafia for using false information to obtain an Order in Abuja. Subsequently, he was granted bail today after being represented by 25 lawyers from the NBA Nasarawa branch. The judge granted him on liberal terms.

Read the full letter below:

NS/MOJ/LEG/10/VOL.III/140

1st December 2021

The Honourable Chief Judge

High Court of the Federal Capital Territory,

FCT, Abuja

My lord,

USE OF FAKE COURT JUDGMENTS BY OKPALE S. OJIKPA ESQ TO OBTAIN GARNISHEE ORDERS FROM THE HIGH COURTS OF THE FEDERAL CAPITAL TERRITORY AGAINST NASARAWA STATE ACCOUNTS:

THE NEED TO EXERCISE DUE CARE AND VIGILANCE TOWARDS RESTRAINING LEGAL PRACTITIONERS FROM ACTS OF CRIMINALITY BY THE COURTS AND THE NIGERIA BAR ASSOCIATION

The above subject refers.

Between the months of August 2020 and November 2021, Mr. Okpale S. Ojikpa practicing under the name and style of Okpale S. Ojikpa & Associates, Legal Practitioners & Consultants of No 2A Victor Malu Road, beside Gracious Motors Ltd, Makurdi, Benue State, has in a campaign of malpractice, endeavoured to abuse and misuse the process of the Courts to obtain Garnishee Orders Nisi on three different occasions from courts of competent jurisdiction after filing false and misleading affidavits and obviating facts. On each occasion, the Honourable Courts, upon discovering the fraud, have set aside the Garnishee Order Nisi and reprimand Mr. Okpale S. Ojikpa which reprimands have fallen on deaf ears.

These activities which, not just border on but have entered the realm of criminality, have caused major disruption to the processes of governance of Nasarawa State during the time which the accounts of the State Government were garnished and it was unable to perform its constitutional responsibilities to the citizens and residents of Nasarawa State. It is due to this constant harassment of the said Counsel, Mr. Okpale S. Ojikpa, who acting on his own volition, has subjected the State to multiple threats and intimidation of enforcing the Consent Judgement and which has cost the State innumerable losses, that we are compelled to bring this petition seeking your urgent intervention to prevent further damage to the State and to protect the integrity of the Bench and Bar.

  1. In January 2020, the Government of Nasarawa State and its retirees under the banner of the Nigeria Union of Pensioners, Nasarawa State Chapter, entered a Memorandum of Understanding for a structured release of funds for the payment and servicing of a backlog/arrears of gratuities which had accumulated over a period of about 25 years.
  2. Under the Agreement, the parties agreed that the State and Local Governments would make contributions monthly into a fund and also to set up a Disbursement Committee, made up of both Government officials and representatives of the pensioners to handle the distribution of the consolidated funds accordingly. The agreement was filed at the National Industrial Court, Makurdi and delivered as a Consent Judgment dated the 20th of January 2020.
  3. Payments of gratuities to pensioners from the fund were to commence in early 2020 but due to the inability of the Disbursement Committee members to settle on the formula for distribution and subsequently the effects of the COVID 19 pandemic which disrupted the flow of funds to the State, there was occasioned a delay in payments. The parties therefore renegotiated some of the terms as to the monthly amounts to be contributed and the time of commencement, thereby effectively compromising the Consent Judgment.
  4. In accordance with the compromised terms, the State Government immediately commenced contributions into the fund and made releases therefrom to the pensioners, which arrangement the State has not defaulted from. The Disbursement Committee also set up a sub-committee made up purely of the representatives of the pensioners who nominate beneficiaries and amounts to be allocated to them each month. The several disruptions due to the Garnishee Orders issued, notwithstanding, the process continues till date and the State Government has been steadily reducing its gratuities owed.
  5. Despite these efforts of the Nasarawa State Government in fulfilling the terms as agreed and the fact that the Consent Judgment of February 2020 has been compromised, a legal practitioner by the name of Okpale S. Ojikpa, claiming to be acting on behalf of a segment of the pensioners, who was very aware of the above compromised terms, by concealing facts and presenting false evidence, used the compromised judgment to obtain a Garnishee Order Nisi from a High Court of the FCT in August 2020 vide Motion Exparte; M/8406/2020 in SUIT NO: FCT/HC/M/8406/2020; ALH. HARUNA JIBRIN MGYA & 600 ORS V NASARAWA STATE & 17 ORS V ZENITH BANK PLC & 15 ORS, before Honourable Justice S. B. Belgore.
  6. When the State presented the truth of the matter to the High Court, Justice S B Belgore set aside the Garnishee Order Nisi and reprimanded Mr. Okpale for misleading the Court into granting the Order Nisi in the first place. The court also declared that the Consent Judgment of the National Industrial Court which Mr. Okpale intended to use as compromised and thus not available for enforcement. A copy of the Ruling of the FCT High Court dated 21st August 2020 on the legal status of the Compromised Consent Judgment is attached as NSMOJ1 for your reference.
  7. Despite the Ruling of the Court and the fact that the State Government had all this while continued to make contributions and pay gratuities every month, and instead of appealing same, Mr. Okpale S. Ojikpa embarked on forum shopping to have his way and using the same compromised and Consent Judgment, obtained an Order Nisi from a concurrent High Court of the FCT sitting at Kwali, Abuja before Honourable Justice V. S. Gaba via Motion No. FCT/HC/FJ/6743/2021 dated the 18th of October 2021. Again when the State presented the true facts before the Court via a motion to set aside the Order Nisi, the Court set same aside in its ruling delivered on the 15th of November 2021 while remarking that it had been obtained without jurisdiction, by fraud and abuse of court process. A copy of the Ruling delivered on the 15th of November 2021 is hereto attached as NSMOJ2 for your reference.
  8. Okpale S. Ojikpa has not stopped there but went ahead to file a Notice of Appeal and a Motion seeking an Interlocutory Injunction to restrain the Banks from allowing the State Government to access its accounts, went personally to serve the banks even when the Honourable Judge has not endorsed the Motion for hearing. At the same time, he has also in an act of brazen criminality and absolute disregard for the ethics of the legal profession, proceeded to mislead another High Court of the FCT, this time at Kubwa via SUIT NO: FCT/HC/BW/CV/586/21 to issue another Garnishee Order Nisi making it three times that he has disrupted the activities of the Government of Nasarawa State within the span of one year.
  9. In addition to the above, Mr. Okpale S. Ojikpa last year, also wrote to the Honourable Attorney General of the Federation, applying for Consent to attach the funds issued as Federal Allocation to Nasarawa State which application was rejected after the Honourable Attorney General of the Federation was apprised of the facts.
  10. In furtherance of the continuous trend of misuse of the process of Court, Counsel to the Judgment Creditors/Respondents, acting on his own volition instituted a fresh suit at the National Industrial Court in Motion No: NICN/MKD/48M/2020 seeking to enforce the said Consent Judgement in violation of the Judgement of the High Court of Federal Capital Territory which has not been appealed against. It was only after persistent objection from the Pensioners in the State that Mr. Okpale withdrew Motion No: NICN/MKD/48M/2020.
  11. Due to this constant harassment by Mr. Okpale S. Ojikpa who, the State discovered was acting on his own volition and without the instruction of the Pensioners, has subjected Nasarawa State to multiple threats and intimidation of enforcing the Consent Judgement despite the subsisting Ruling of the High Court of Federal Capital Territory and which has cost innumerable losses, the State was forced to seek for and obtained an Ex Parte Order of the High Court of Nasarawa State restraining him from attaching funds or taking any step to enforce the Consent Judgment against the Nasarawa State Government funds pending the determination of the substantive case against him.
  12. The Exparte Order was obtained in SUIT NO. NSD/LF91/2021; NASARAWA STATE GOVERNMENT & 2 ORS V OKPALE S. OJIKPA & ANOR dated the 24th of September 2021 and was served in spite of which and in flagrant violation of the Order, he still went ahead to file the Applications before the High Courts of the FCT in Kwali and Kubwa. It is worth noting that being fully aware of the Ex parte Order of the High Court of Nasarawa State restraining him, Mr. Okpale s. Ojikpa obtained the Garnishee Order before the High Court of the FCT, Kubwa through O. M Ajonye whom he has appeared with severally in pursuing the previous Garnishee processes.
  13. From the above, Mr. Okpale S Ojikpa has violated, the Order of the Courts, instituted four actions against the Nasarawa State Government based on fake and empty judgments, disrupted governance of the State without any justification and thereby caused suffering among the populace, particularly civil servants who are not paid their salaries when due each time such Garnishee Orders are obtained. Despite several reprimands from the Courts, he has continued to abuse the processes of court, displaying total disregard for proper court procedure and displayed desperation and atavistic tendencies at the expense of the peace, order and security of the State.
  14. Furthermore, each time the accounts of the State are unlawfully attached, the State is unable to pay salaries as well as secure the lives and properties of residents and citizens of Nasarawa State leading to increase in insecurity and deaths in the State and the near total collapse of public institutions in the State including the schools and health facilities, which Mr. Okpale S. Ojikpa seeks to achieve and bring the State to a standstill.
  15. These actions of illegal and unlawful use of court process, if left unchecked, will destroy the integrity of our judicial system and result in chaos in the polity as Mr. Okpale S Ojikpa appears to be on a mission of destruction and may end up destroying himself.

It is therefore to protect the integrity of the hallowed courts and their processes that we a requesting your intervention to ensure that due care and vigilance should be exercised in the judicial process to avoid a dent in the image of the judiciary as the avatar of the Almighty Judge of all men.

Please accept my gratitude and be assured of the highest regards of His Excellency the Governor, Engr. Abdullahi A. Sule and the goodwill of the people of Nasarawa State.

Dr. ABDULKARIM A KANA

Associate Professor of Law

Honourable Attorney General/Commissioner for Justice

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