Court orders CBN to release NNPC’S N82bn debt to Akwa Ibom communities

 The Federal High Court, Abuja, granted a garnishee order absolute, on Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to release N81.9 billion to Ibeno Local Government Area of Akwa Ibom.
The money is standing to the credit of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) and it’s joint venture partner, Mobil Producing Nigeria Unlimited.
Justice Taiwo Taiwo gave the order while ruling on a garnishee nisi proceeding.
Ibeno is one of the oil producing communities in Akwa Ibom.
The community  instituted 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.
The oil communities, led by Mr Effiong Archianga and nine others had through their lawyer, Mr Lucius Nwosu, SAN, sought redress over oil spillage in the area.
They alleged that the spillage had caused environmental degradation in their communities.
The court had in June 21, 2021, in a judgement, awarded  N81.9 billion to the plaintiffs, who are now judgment creditors.
The court had ordered that the money  be paid within 14 days after which eight per cent interest would be accruable on the principal sum annually.
However, on Dec. 15, 2021, in a garnishee nisi proceeding, the CBN insisted that it must get the consent of the Attorney- General of the Federation before enforcing the garnishee judgment.
Justice Taiwo dismissed the claim of CBN and ordered it to release funds belonging to NNPC and Mobil to the tune of N8. 9 billion  to the judgement creditor.
The court said it was wrong for the apex bank to say it had to get consent from the Attorney-General before attaching the judgment debt, insisting that the CBN was not a public officer.
“The Jan. 6, 2022 application is hereby refused, the order nisi is made absolute against the CBN, “Justice Taiwo ordered.
Justice Taiwo  dismissed an application challenging the service of garnishee order nisi on the judgement debtor.
He said that the coming into force of the Petroleum Industry Act had altered the name of the NNPC and not it’s identify.
He added that the CEO, directors and employees of  NNPC were still the ones working for  NNPC Ltd.
The judge also said that
NNPC Ltd inherited assets, interests and liabilities of NNPC.
“It follows that the identity of the judgement debtor has been known, and the misnomer will be corrected, since it is a mistake of a name.
“The judgment debtor is a juristic person, and the applicant  has not suffered any injustice upon the mistake in the name of the applicant,” the judge held
Newsmen reports that a garnishee order is one of the options open to a judgment creditor to enforce a judgment that has been made in it’s favour.
It is solely used to enforce monetary judgments against a debtor to recover money.


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