The Ondo State House of Assembly is currently finding it difficult to meet its financial obligations after a court temporarily froze its accounts following a garnishee suit filed against it by the deposed deputy speaker, Iroju Ogundeji.
The order of the court also ensured the temporary freezing of the accounts of the Speaker, Bamidele Oleyelogun.
In the suit number AK/38M/2020 which was heard on January 13 before Justice S. A. Bola of the Ondo State High Court, the court granted an order directing the garnishee (the banks) to show why the judgment debtors’ accounts with the garnishee at its branch offices in Akure, Ondo State, or any of its branches will not be attached to satisfy the judgment debt in the suit.
The amount owed is N40.5 million.
Mr Ogundeji and three other lawmakers, namely, Tomide Akinribido, Wale Williams and Favour Tomomewo, were suspended by the house last year, in the wake of a conflict occasioned by the politics of the governorship election.
However, after a legal interchange, the lawmakers secured a judgment reinstating them in addition to the payment of their salaries and emoluments in arrears.
After the House went on appeal and lost, it refused to obey the judgment until a suit to commit the leadership of the House for contempt was filed.
A few days to the court hearing of the contempt case last December, the House announced the reinstatement of the lawmakers.
The lawmakers were, however, not satisfied because there was no letter of reinstatement issued to them to indicate that they had been officially reinstated.
Mr Ogundeji told PREMIUM TIMES that while they were suspended, letters were issued to them to that effect, but the reinstatement, in obedience to the court judgment, was not done through a letter.
On the hearing date for the contempt case, the state’s Attorney General, Charles Titiloye, who represented the leadership of the House, had assured the court and undertook to ensure the matters pending were settled amicably.
Mr Ogundeji said after the court struck out the case on the commitment of the Attorney General, nothing had happened after then.
He said their salaries were not paid and there was no formal communication that they had been reinstated.
According to Mr Ogundeji, he had approached the Office of the Accountant General of the State, and he had been duly informed that his allowances had been paid to the Ondo State House of Assembly.
“That is why I have to return to the court for the garnishee order so as to ensure the payment of my entitlement,” he said.
Mr Ogundeji had his prayers granted to the extent that the accounts of the defendants had been temporarily frozen, and further actions could be taken after the matter is heard on Thursday, February 4.
“An order Nisi attaching the judgment debtor’s account with the garnishees at their branch offices in Akure Ondo State or any of the pending branches to the tune of N40,584,346.80 pending the determination of the order absolute,” the order noted in part.
The court, in the order signed by its Director of Registry, John Obasemo, on January 13, directed that the order be served on the defendants/judgment debtors and the garnishees within 14 days of the issuance of the order which ended on January 27.
Those affected include Mr Oleyelogun, the parliamentary secretary, Akinruntan and the deputy majority leader, Olamide Oladiji.
This also includes all the banks holding the accounts of the House of Assembly and other defendants in the case.
The court then fixed February 4 as the return date for consideration of the garnishees’ affidavits to show cause and “whether to commence Order Nisi to Order absolute.”
Mr Williams confirmed the development, saying that the steps against the defendants were necessary for failing to pay their entitlements as ordered by the court.
The Assembly was not forthcoming when PREMIUM TIMES contacted it for comments.
The House’s Spokesperson, Olugbenga Omole, said he would not speak for now, on the matter.
Mr Ogundeji is also in court to challenge his removal as deputy speaker of the house.
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