A Federal High Court in Abuja has fixed June 1, 2015 for ruling on garnishee applications filed by the Judiciary Staff Union of Nigeria (JUSUN) seeking a court order to compel the bankers of Plateau and Benue State governments to pay about N1.6bn from the accounts of the states being money belonging to the state judiciaries.
The trial judge, Justice Adeniyi Ademola of the Federal High Court had in a judgment delivered in January 2014 affirmed the judiciary’’s financial autonomy as stipulated by the constitution and abolished its piecemeal funding by the state governments in a suit filed by JUSUN.
Following non-compliance by the states, JUSUN returned to the court with an application seeking to enforce the judgment by freezing or garnisheeing the bank accounts of the state governments.
Ruling on the separate garnishee applications which JUSUN filed against the two states on April 20, 2015, the judge ordered the bankers to appear in court on June 1 to show why they should not be made to pay about N1.6bn from the accounts of the states.
In two separate applications, JUSUN had claimed that the amount due to Benue and Plateau State judiciary as at March 2015, was N957,630,349.57 and N673,019,948.19, respectively.
The affected banks are: Skye Bank Plc, which was summoned with respect to the bank account of Benue State, while Zenith Bank, First Bank of Nigeria and First City Monument Bank Plc, were summoned with respect to the bank accounts of Plateau State.
JUSUN had embarked on protracted industrial actions due to the refusal of the various state governments to comply with the judgment which granted financial autonomy to the judiciary.
The union, in the ex-parte garnishee application, said Plateau and Benue state governments deliberately refused to obey the judgment of the court.
The two judiciary of the two states are said to be owing their workers who are members of the union arrears of salary and other funds due to them up to March 2015.
In the supporting affidavits accompanying the applications, JUSUN claimed, among others, that “all efforts made to the state governments to comply with the judgment of the court fell on deaf ears”.