The ruling by Justice Suleiman Belgore of the High Court of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) on June 24, 2021, attaching monies held to the credit of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Polaris Bank Ltd., has been overruled by the Court of Appeal in Abuja.
As part of the decision, Justice Belgore issued a garnishee order absolute attaching N31,534,918.25 from PDP’s account No. 1770319690 held by Polaris Bank as payment for two lawyers Sam Adams and Omale Ojonye’s legal fees.
According to a judgment of the Court of Appeal, Makurdi division, handed on June 9, 2020, 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% interest of N434,918.25).
Justice Belgore ruled on June 24, 2021, that the appellant (Polaris Bank) had failed to provide justification for why the garnishee order nisi should not be granted 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 nisi 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.”