Justice Taiwo Taiwo of the Federal High Court sitting in Abuja, on Monday, granted a garnishee order absolute, mandating the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to release the sum of N81.9 billion standing to the credit of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), and its joint venture partner, Mobil Producing Nigeria Unlimited, in its custody to oil producing communities in Ibeno Local Government Area of Akwa Ibom state.
The Ibeno communities led by Obong Effiong Archianga and nine others had through their lawyer, Chief Lucius Nwosu (SAN) filed a suit against NNPC, Mobil Producing Nigeria Unlimited and ExxonMobil Corporation seeking about N100 billion compensation for economic losses suffered from oil spillages caused by the defendants during exploration.
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The oil communities had gone to court to seek redress over oil spillage in the area, which they claimed had caused environmental degradation in their communities.
Consequently, in a judgement delivered on June 21, 2021, Justice Taiwo made an order, awarding a cost of N81.9 billion to the plaintiffs, who are now judgement creditors.
The court had ordered that the money must be paid within 14 days after which eight percent interest will be accruable on the principal sum annually.
On December 15, 2021, in a garnishee nisi proceedings, the apex bank had insisted that it had to get the consent of the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) before enforcing the garnishee judgement.
However, in a judgement on Monday, Justice Taiwo dismissed the claim of the apex bank and ordered it to release funds belonging to NNPC and Mobil to the tune of N82 billion to the judgement creditor.
The court said it was wrong for the CBN to say it has to get the consent of the AGF before attaching the judgment debt, insisting that, the apex bank is not a public officer.
“The January 6, 2022 application for an order of garnishee nisi is made absolute against the apex bank”, Justice Taiwo held.
Credit: Nigeria Tribune