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Sani v. Kogi State House of Assembly & Ors (2021) – SC

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➥ CASE SUMMARY OF:
Sani v. Kogi State House of Assembly & Ors (2021) – SC

by PipAr Chima

➥ COURT:
Supreme Court – SC.1179/2019

➥ JUDGEMENT DELIVERED ON:
Friday, February 05, 2021

➥ AREA(S) OF LAW
Garnishee proceedings;
Stay of proceedings.

➥ NOTABLE DICTA
⦿ MOTION ON NOTICE NOT PRELIMINARY OBJECTION FOR PART COMPLAINT
Nowadays, preliminary objections are filed once a Respondent notices any error in the Appellant’s processes. This is wrong. Where the Respondent complains of the competency of a ground of appeal as in this appeal, and the other grounds are in order, and can sustain the appeal, the Respondent ought to file a motion on Notice to strike out the incompetent grounds and not a preliminary objection. – A. Aboki, JSC.

⦿ OBJECTION TO SOME GROUNDS IS BY WAY OF MOTION ON NOTICE
For the umpteenth time, the essence of a preliminary objection is to terminate an appeal in limine. Any objection to a ground or some grounds of appeal, not the entire appeal, is by way of motion on notice which could be argued in the brief vide Okereke v. James (2012) 16 NWLR (Pt. 1326) 339 at 348- 349. – A. Aboki, JSC.

⦿ SUBORDINATE COURT CANNOT SIT OVER JUDGEMENT OF SUPREME COURT
My Lords, the law is settled, and as rightly stated by learned senior counsel for the Appellant, that the Court below, and other Courts subordinate to this Court, lack the jurisdictional competence and power to sit on appeal over the judgment of this Court. This is the import of Section 235 CFRN 1999 as amended. – A. Aboki, JSC.

⦿ RIGHT TO STAY ATTACHMENT OF MONEY – GARNISHEE PROCEEDINGS
The law is that the person whose money with the garnishee is being attached has a right to stay the attachment of his money by Garnishee Order absolute pending the conclusion of any legal process to challenge the decision of the garnishee proceedings or the substantive case that formed the basis of the garnishee proceedings. – H.M. Ogunwumiju, JSC.

➥ PARTIES
Elder Dr. Friday Sani (Makama)

v.

Kogi State House of Assembly & Ors.

➥ LEAD JUDGEMENT DELIVERED BY:
Abdu Aboki, J.S.C.

➥ APPEARANCES
⦿ FOR THE APPELLANT
– J.S. OKUTEPA, SAN.

⦿ FOR THE RESPONDENT
– ABDULWAHAB MUHAMMAD.

➥ CASE HISTORY
Consequent upon a prior decision of the Supreme Court, the Appellant herein, commenced garnishee proceedings at the High Court of the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja against the Respondents seeking the following reliefs:
1. GARNISHEE ORDER NISI as in form 26 of the Sheriff and Civil Process Act; against the Garnishee herein, attaching the sum of N210,820,000.00 (Two Hundred and Ten Million, Eight Hundred and Twenty Thousand Naira only), due and accruing to the Judgment Debtor/Respondents in custody of the garnishees with particular reference to the accounts stated in the schedule;
2. AN ORDER RESTRAINING/PROHIBITING garnishees from paying out or transferring monies due and accruing to the Judgment Debtors in their custody (in the accounts provided in the schedule below), pending when the Garnishees can show cause why they cannot be ordered to pay the said monies to the Judgment Creditor/Applicant;
3. The sum of Ten Million Naira only being the cost of the garnishee proceedings;
4. AND FOR SUCH ORDERS or further orders as this Honourable Court may deem fit to make in the circumstances of this case.

Available:  OBI v. UZOEWULU (2021) - SC

The 1st Respondent filed a Notice of Preliminary Objection challenging the garnishee proceedings, inter alia that the judgment of this Honourable Court upon which the garnishee proceedings was predicated, did not contain any specific amount as to the Appellants pending salaries, allowances, emoluments and monies due to him, hence there was nothing in the Supreme Court judgment specifying that the Appellant be paid the sum of N210,820,000.00 (Two Hundred and Ten Million, Eight Hundred and Twenty Thousand Naira only).

The Trial Court delivered its Ruling on the 19th of June, 2019 and dismissed the 1st Respondent’s Preliminary Objection and proceeded to make the garnishee order nisi, absolute against the funds standing to the credit of the 7th Respondent, in the custody of the 14th Garnishee/Respondent, as per the Appellant’s reliefs.

Dissatisfied with the Ruling, the 1st Respondent appealed to the Court of Appeal, Abuja. The 1st Respondent also filed a Motion for stay of execution of the Trial Court’s Ruling, pending the determination of the appeal filed at the Court of Appeal. In further support of the application, the 1st Respondent filed a further and better affidavit. The Appellant in opposition to the application for stay of execution, filed a counter affidavit, in reaction to the 1st Respondent’s application. The other set of Respondents did not oppose the application. Written addresses were ordered, filed and exchanged and in its Ruling delivered on the 28th of August, 2019, the 1st Respondent’s application was granted and the Court of Appeal ordered that the execution of the Trial Court’s Ruling be stayed, pending the determination of the 1st Respondent’s appeal.

Available:  Adekola Mustapha v. Corporate Affairs Commission (2008)

The Appellant, thoroughly dissatisfied with this order of stay of execution of the Trial Court’s Ruling, appealed to this Court.

➥ ISSUE(S) & RESOLUTION

[PRELIMINARY OBJECTION: dismissed]
I. The 1st Respondent raised a Preliminary Objection to the hearing of the appeal on the ground that the notice of appeal is against an interlocutory decision, for which leave is required, and no leave was sought and obtained.

RULING:
I.A. There is no foundation on which this preliminary objection can be anchored as the four grounds of appeal are grounds of law within the ambit of Section 233(2) of the CFRN 1999, as amended, for which no leave needs be sought for or obtained as appeals on such, are of right.
Clearly, from the complaints which propelled this appeal, taken together with the particulars, there is no gainsaying that they are all grounds of law. It is a fact that to distinguish a ground of law from a ground of fact, is usually difficult but when the case on appeal has to be whether the grounds reveal a misunderstanding by the Court below of the law or a misapplication of the law to the facts already proved or admitted, it is clearly a question of law.
.
.
[APPEAL: dismissed]
I.A. Whether the Court below was right when it granted the 1st Respondent’s application for stay of execution of the Ruling of the Trial Court pending the determination of the 1st Respondent’s appeal.

RULING:
I.A. It is clear from the reliefs prayed for in the motion, the grounds for the prayers and the affidavits in support of the motion that it was the execution of the Ruling of the Trial Court of 19th, June 2019 that was sought to be stayed. From the depositions in the affidavits in support of the application for stay of execution, particularly Paragraph 6{i) of the further and better affidavit filed on the 9th of July 2019, the application is aimed at staying the execution of the order made by the Trial Court, to pay the sum of N210,820,000.00. (Two Hundred and Ten Million, Eight Hundred and Twenty Thousand Naira), to the judgment creditor, pending the determination of the 1st Judgment debtor’s/1st Respondent, appeal against the said ruling of the trial Court. I therefore find the Appellant’s arguments, that the Court below sat on appeal over the judgment of this Court; baseless and unfounded and a misrepresentation of the facts. I attach no weight to them.

Available:  Henry O. Awoniyi & Ors v. AMORC (NIG) (2000)

I.B. On the sub-issue of locus standi the Supreme Court held: the 1st judgment debtor/1st Respondent is a necessary party to the garnishee proceeding and has sufficient legal interest in the subject of the garnishee proceedings that confer him with the legal standing to bring an appeal against the Ruling of the Trial Court.

➥ MISCELLANEOUS POINTS

➥ REFERENCED (STATUTE)

➥ REFERENCED (CASE)

⦿ DECISION OF THE SUPREME COURT IS FINAL
In FBN Plc v. TSA Ind. Ltd (2012) LPELR 4714 SC, this Court stated as follows: “There is no doubt that this Court does not have the power or competence or jurisdiction to consider an application to review its judgment once delivered. The Supreme Court being the final Court of Justice of Nigeria, its decision is final and cannot be altered or reviewed by any other Court or by itself except by itself on exceptional and specific circumstances.”

⦿ JUDGEMENT DEBTOR MAY BE HEARD IN GARNISHEE PROCEEDINGS
In Gwede v. Delta State House of Assembly & Anor (2019) LPELR 47441 SC, it was held as follows: “Thus, where the judgment sought to be enforced is certain, in terms of the parties, the judgment sum and the party adjudged the debtor, then the judgment debtor has nothing to say in the proceedings. However, where, as in this case, the judgment sum is not certain and the party adjudged as the debtor is confused by the judgment creditor, I think that justice demands that the ”judgment debtor” be heard in such circumstance. In other words, it is not cast on stone that a judgment debtor cannot be heard in garnishee proceedings. It is the Court that will determine whether he should be heard or not. If the application of the judgment debtor before the Court is to reopen issues settled in the judgment, he cannot be heard. But if the application is to draw the attention of the Court to misleading facts put forward by the judgment creditor, there is nothing wrong with him being heard.”

➥ REFERENCED (OTHERS)

End

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