… As 2 labourers docked over alleged theft of iron sheets worth N6.4m***
The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), on Tuesday before the National Industrial Court, contested the court’s order to pay 110 disengaged staff of the Ahmadu Bello University ( ABU), Zaria, that was sacked in 1996 their entitlements.
Joined in the suit as respondents are the 110 disengaged staff, ABU, Zaria, the Minister, Federal Ministry of Education and the Attorney General of the Federation & Minister of Justice, as first, second, third and fourth respondents respectively.
When the matter was called before Justice Rakiya Hasstrup, counsel to CBN, Matthias Agboni informed the court that he had an application for a stay of execution before the court.
He however proceeded to withdraw an earlier motion dated and filed on March 8 and replaced it with another of April 14.
Mr Femi Adedeji, counsel to the first respondent on his part informed the court that he was not opposing the withdrawal.
Adedeji however stated that he was opposing the Written Address that accompanied the new application.
Also, Mr Kashim Idi, counsel to the third respondent equally did not oppose Agboni’s application for withdrawal.
He further said that he had not filed any process because he had just been served processes by Adedeji.
The judge, therefore, said that the CBN’s application dated March 8 was duly struck out.
She directed Adedeji to respond to the new application he was opposing and serve parties
Adedeji however objected and said that the appellant was trying to delay the proceeding by frustrating and wasting the time of the court
In addition, he said he was ready to respond to the appellant’s application on Point of Law
Agboni then proceeded to take his application dated and filed on April 14 brought pursuant to order 64, rules 8 and 13 of the NICN Civil Procedure of 2017.
The applications prayed for three orders of the court.
The first prayer was for an order of stay of execution of the earlier judgment of the court delivered on Jan.27, spending the hearing and determination of the appeal.
The second prayer of the appellant was an order of the court setting aside the garnishee order made absolute and any order initiated any other orders made against it.
The CBN also had as its final prayer, any order the court may deem fit in the suit.
The application was accompanied by an 18-paragraphs affidavit and supported by three exhibits.
Agboni further stated that the first exhibit was a copy of the judgment delivered by the court on Jan.27.
He added that the second exhibit was for notice of stay of execution and the last exhibit was a proposed notice of appeal.
He urged the court to grant the order of stay of execution in order not to render the appeal nugatory.
The counsel concluded by stating his application was proper and in order because a garnishee of absolute order is a final decision that an appellant had the right to appeal within 90 days.
Adedeji replying on Point of Law raised two arguments.
He submitted that he was not opposing the application to stay of execution on the condition that the appellant complies to order 64, rule 8 (3) of the court by depositing the judgment sum with the court Registrar.
He said the above rule stated that when appealing a monetary judgment, the judgment sum must be deposited in an interest-yielding account by the court Registrar.
Adedeji said that his second reply in Point of Law was on the appellant’s application praying for a stay of execution at the same time when there was a notice of appeal before the Court of Appeal.
Agboni replied that there was no need for his client to make such a deposit because it could cater for the judgment sum after the Court of Appeal determined the suit in the first respondent’s favour
He added that the authority cited by Adedeji was at the discretion of the court in cases where the court perceives that a judgment debtor may tamper with judgment sum before the final determination of a matter.
The judge after listening to the submissions of the counsel adjourned until May 17 for ruling.
The newsmen report that the appointments of 110 ABU staff were terminated in 1996 when the institution was run by a Sole Administrator.
They approached the court in 2012, after the failure of the institution to implement the recommendations of various visitation panels, which recommended that they be reinstated and all their entitlements paid.
The court ruled in favour of the staff in 2015 and ordered the university to reinstate them and pay their entitlements, which amounted to N2.5 billion.
Non-compliance with the court judgment necessitated the garnishee order on the institution’s bank accounts in 2017.
However, when the garnishee proceeding was ongoing, the judgment debtors filed for a stay of proceeding as they had filed an appeal before the Appeal Court in Nov.2018, contesting the 2015 judgment.
The Court of Appeal on its part on May 24, 2021, dismissed the appeal and affirmed the decision of the lower court.
The NICN then on Jan. 27 through a ruling made an order absolute in a garnishee proceeding ordering the CBN the pay the disengaged staff.
In the meantime, two labourers were on Tuesday brought before a Yaba Chief Magistrates Court in Lagos for allegedly stealing iron sheets valued N6.4million from a construction site.
The defendants are Peter Akah, 23; and Austine Opara, 28.
They are facing a two-count charge of conspiracy and theft.
The duo, however, pleaded not guilty to the charge.
The Police prosecutor, ASP Rita Momah, told the court that the defendants committed the offences on June 4, 2021, at Beamco company in the Apapa area of Lagos.
She said that the defendants were labourers at a nearby site, and they entered the company that was under reconstruction to steal flat iron sheets.
Momah said that some of the other workers who knew the defendants saw them carry the iron sheets and reported to their building manager who made the complaint at the Police Station.
According to her, the total value of the iron sheets stolen was N6.4million, and they were yet to be recovered.
She said that the offences contravene sections 411 and 287 of the Criminal Laws of Lagos State 2015 (Revised).
The newsmen report that Section 287 stipulates a three-year jail term for the offence of stealing, while Section 411 provides two years for conspiracy.
The Chief Magistrate, Mrs Adeola Adedayo, admitted the defendants to bail of N2million each with two responsible sureties in like sum.
She said that all the sureties must be gainfully employed with evidence of three years tax payment to the Lagos State Government, and have their addresses verified by the court.
Adedayo adjourned the case until May 17, for mention.