Alex Enumah in Abuja
The Minister of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Mr Muhammed Bello, has dragged a judge of the Rivers State High Court in Bori, Justice G. C. Aguma, before the National Judicial Council (NJC) over alleged judicial misconduct in a N329 billion judgment debt against his ministry.
The petition against the judge was in respect of an order seeking to attach funds of the FCT in six commercial banks in Nigeria over alleged judgment debt to a firm, Kohath Property Development Limited.
Aguma while sitting as a judge of a High Court of Bori, Rivers State, was said to have made an order garnishee against the defendants in an alleged breach of contract.
But Bello in the petition submitted to the Chief Justice of Nigeria and Chairman of the NJC, Justice Ibrahim Muhammad, who said he found the action of the judge “disturbing” is praying the NJC to investigate Justice Aguma for making a garnishee order against the Federal Capital Territory Authority (FCTA) and the Federal Capital Development Authority (FCDA) in disregard to judicial precedents.
Amongst others the FCT minister wonders why Aguma would take it upon himself to give a garnishee order in suits that was delivered by an FCT High Court in Bwari, Abuja.
The FCT minister also wants the NJC to investigate the Rivers State High Court on why he attached the bank accounts of the FCT Inland Services and the Abuja Environmental Protection Board when they were not parties in the suit that led to the award of N329 billion judgment debt.
Bello in the petition dated November 20 and served on the NJC on November 24, also accused the Rivers judge of sitting as an appellate court over the decision of the FCT judge which had ordered a stay of execution of the judgment debt.
If found wanting, Bello wants the NJC to hand down the necessary punishment for such misconduct.
According to the minister, problem started when his attention was drawn to “attempts being made to attach the funds of the FCDA and FCTA by a so-called judgment creditor in suit number BHC/23/CS/2020 before Justice Aguma,” sitting in Rivers State.
Bello who stated that he was alarmed over the development, engaged the services of his counsel to challenge the entire garnishee order proceedings as well as the judgment from which it emanated.
He stated that their findings revealed that the judgment had on July 15, 2020 ordered the FCTA, FCDA and the minister to pay the Kohath Property Development Limited the sum of N329 billion for breach of contract.
“That it took only two days after the judgment in Bwari, Abuja for the Judgment creditor to obtain a garnishee order nisi before Justice Aguma in Bori, Rivers State.
The petitioner lamented that despite a notice of appeal and an application for stay of the judgment on August 4, 2020, Aguma still went ahead with proceedings.
The FCT minister also expressed displeasure at the speed with which the garnishee order was handled by Aguma in Rivers in a matter that took place in Abuja.
According to him the Abuja High Court had delivered judgment on July 15, while Aguma commenced garnishee proceedings on July 17.
He further expressed dismay that Aguma against judicial proceedings, attached the garnishee of accounts of bodies that were not parties in the suit.
He therefore prayed the NJC to deal with the matter in the interest of justice.