Government activities in Kano have been affected by a court order that froze at least 24 bank accounts of the state government.
The court order was a fallout of the N30 billion fine imposed by the Federal High Court, Kano against the state government for the demolition of the properties of businesses and individuals in the state.
In the last few days, lower cadre officials were seen in clusters at the Audu Bako Secretariat (State Government Secretariat) discussing the skeletal services being rendered. Many top officials including the Governor, Abba Yusuf, the Secretary to the State Government, Abdullahi Bichi, were. absent from their office for undisclosed reasons.
Last Friday, this reporter overheard a civil servant who visited the office of the Head of Service to follow up on his promotion tell his colleagues that he was asked to return when governance returned to normal.
An official, who asked not to be named because he does not have permission to speak with this reporter, said only government bank accounts remitting internally generated revenue were not affected by the court order as the state uses such accounts to fund some of its services.
The state government has yet to comment on the development. The government spokesperson, Halilu Dantiye, on Monday, said he is yet to be briefed about the development.
Last Thursday, the state’s Accountant General, Abdulkadir Abdulsalam, referred reporters’ inquiries to the office of the Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice, Haruna Dederi, for comment.
Mr Dederi reportedly travelled out of the state and his known phone number was not connecting last Thursday and Monday morning.
The freezing order
The Federal High Court in Abuja granted the freezing of at least 24 bank accounts belonging to the Kano State government over failure to pay N30 billion compensation to owners of demolished properties in the state.
The judge, I.E Ekwo, granted the order in a suit filed before the court by shop owners and traders over the demolition of their properties in June, describing the action as illegal.
The Certified True Copy (CTC) of the ruling delivered on 28 November and signed by the Registrar, Chioma Chijioke, reads as follows:
“A garnishee order Nisi is hereby made attaching the funds (present and future) of 1. Kano State Government, 2. Kano State Urban Planning and Development Authority, KNUPDA and 3. Attorney General of Kano State (including but limited to Kano State FAAC Account and Account No. 1019716320 at UBA and Account No. 1790249410 Polaris Bank) and other accounts in the custody of the respective Garnishees to the tune of N30 billion in satisfaction of the judgement of the Federal High Court sitting in Kano per S. A Amobeda, J. dated the 29th September 2023 herein being enforced in favour of the judgement creditors.
“The Garnishees herein are hereby ordered to appear before this court to show cause (if any) why the order Nisi should not be made absolute against them.
“Judgement creditors to serve the defendants and Garnishees at least 14 days before the next date of hearing.”
The case was however adjourned till 18 January 2024 for garnishees to show the case. The frozen accounts were in 24 banks including the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN.
Court order and N30 billion compensation
On 29 September, a Federal High Court in the state ordered the Kano State Government to pay the Incorporated Trustees of Eid Grand Shop Owners N30 billion as compensation for the unlawful demolition of their properties.
The court ruled that the state government carried out the demolition exercise without recourse to the law.
The Kano State governor, Mr Yusuf, ordered the demolition of certain properties across the Kano Metropolis, which he claimed the immediate past government sold illegally. Some of the properties demolished include a three-storey building with 90 shops on a race course at the Nasarawa GRA. Daula Hotel is a three-star hotel reconstructed by the Ganduje administration under a Private Public Partnership arrangement.
The government also demolished another structure, at Hajj Camp, sold to private individuals by the immediate past administration of the state and shops erected in parts of the Kofar Mata, the Eid prayer ground. Some of the traders under the umbrella of the Incorporated Trustees of ‘Massallacin Eid Shop Owners’ challenged the demolition at the Federal High Court and the court awarded them N30 billion as compensation for the illegal demolition of their properties.
The state government rejected the order of the high court judge, Samuel Amobeda, granting N30 billion in compensation to the traders. Dissatisfied with the judgment, the state government filed a fresh motion for a stay of execution of the order, pending the hearing of the appeal at the Court of Appeal.
However, Mr Amobeda ordered the defendants to deposit the N30 billion compensation as a fine with the court registrar within seven days as a condition to grant the stay application. The state government failed to do so.
Following the expiration of the seven days ultimatum, the State Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice, Mr Dederi, told reporters that there was no need to comply with the order of the lower court since the hearing of an appeal against the N30 billion compensation has been slated for 4 December for hearing of the motion on stay of lower court execution order.
He insisted that the federal high court lacked the jurisdiction to hear the matter.
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