The National Industrial Court in Owerri on Wednesday sealed four banks for disregarding its order which was issued in favour of a former Gov. Ikedi Ohakim of Imo. The banks are: Diamond bank Item St.branch, First Bank Plc, Bank road branch, United Bank for Africa (UBA), Mbari St. branch and the branch Union Bank at Bank road in Owerri. An order for execution issued by Justice O.O. Arowosegbe, was displayed on each of the affected branch.
“An order granting leave to issue writ of execution of the order of this honourable court made in this suit on February 23, 2018, against, second, third, sixth and seventh garnishees, that is Diamond Bank, First Bank, United Bank for Africa and Union Bank PLC, respectively,” NAN quoted the order on display. A document of a court judgment on display at UBA indicated that the judgment mandated the affected banks to pay the plaintiff his claims from Imo State Government accounts domiciled with the banks, an order they had defied.
The judgment which was dated February 23, 2018 reads in part, “Order absolute is made against the fifth garnishee (Skye Bank) to the tune of N112,000,000.00. “Order absolute to the tune of forty-four million, seven hundred and ninety thousand, eight hundred and thirty-one Naira, thirty-four kobo (N44,790,831.34), is made against the sixth garnishee (UBA), less the minimum amount required to maintain the account. “Order absolute is made against the seventh garnishee (Union Bank ) to the total sum of N8.8 million, less the minimum amount required to maintain the account.
“The fourth garnishee is accordingly discharged. “In all, the degree absolute has been made on a cumulative total of N290 million. “The total sum is to be paid over to this court vide the Chief Registrar, National Industrial Court of Nigeria within 14 days next.” However, Ohakim had gone to court owing to the failure of his successor, Gov. Rochas Okorocha, to pay him his entitlements as a former governor of the state.
The court delivered judgment in his (Ohakim’s) favour on May 24, 2016, but Okorocha allegedly refused to honour the court judgment. The ex-governor again went to court to enforce the judgment against the state governor by asking the court to issue an order to the banks where Imo State Government accounts are domiciled to pay him.
The court granted the request through a garnishee order on Feb. 23, but the banks failed to pay the plaintiff. Ohakim also went back to the court to get an order for the sealing off of the affected banks until the entitlements are paid. A bank staff, who confirmed the development to newsmen said that “Our branch has been sealed by the court. “There is a garnishee order in a case involving former Gov. Ikedi Ohakim and Gov. Rochas Okorocha ordering us to honour a court judgment, but our bank did not obey court rule.”
A notice of attachment from court in Owerri, dated Nov. 6, was pasted in front of the banks indicated that the affected banks had failed to honour a garnishee order issued by the court. A correspondent of the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), who visited the areas saw the banks’ staff and customers stranded.