– A Court has ordered the temporary blockage of two INEC accounts in the Central Bank of Nigeria
– The Court has also ordered the Federal Ministry of Finance to temporarily withhold money already appropriated for INEC
– This judgement was delivered after INEC’s failure to settle a judgment debt of N17.258billion
A Federal High Court in Abuja has ordered that two banks acounts of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) in the Central Bank of Nigeria be suspended till November 8, 2018 over alleged failure to settle a judgment debt of N17.258billion.
The Nation reports that the court also ordered the Federal Ministry of Finance to temporarily withhold money already appropriated for INEC, whether already disbursed or yet to be disbursed.
Justice John Tsoho gave the orders yesterday in a ruling on a motion ex-parte for garnishee orders nisi brought by a firm, Bedding Holdings Limited, who, on January 28, 2014 got a N17.3billion judgment against INEC.
The affected accounts are: 002-01224-42021, 002-01224-41032, held by INEC in the CBN.
Justice Tsoho equally granted a garnishee order nisi attaching “all money, including, but not limited to foreign accounts attached to current accounts of the 1st judgment debtor in the possession of the garnishees/respondents (CBN and Federal Ministry of Finance) bearing the name of the 1st judgment debtor (INEC)”.
The orders are to subsist until November 8 when the garnishee are expected to show cause why the orders made nisi should not be made absolute, by which the court will direct the deployment of funds in the judgment debtor’s account to settle the judgment debt.
Moving the ex parte motion for ‘garnishee nisi’ on Monday, another of Bedding Holdings’ lawyer, James Odibah, urged the court to strike out similar orders made on May 24, 2018.
Odiba said the earlier orders were made against parties wrongly joined as respondents in the garnishee proceedings.
He said: “We shall be asking this honourable court for the withdrawal of our earlier ex parte order of this court dated May 24, 2018.The reason for this is that, in our earlier motion we brought parties.
“In line with the new policy of TSA (Treasury Single Account), those parties were not the proper parties. This motion is supported by a 39-para affidavit sworn to by Dr. Sylvester Osadolor Odigee, the Group Executive Chairman of the applicant.
“Attached to the motion, are nine exhibits. We humbly rely on the exhibits. We urge your lordship to strike out our earlier ex parte motion and the order granted on May 24, 2018 which is still subsisting.
“My lord, this is to ensure that all the relevant parties are brought to court. We have removed all the impediments to the granting of this motion by withdrawing our earlier motion,” Odiba said.
In his ruling, Justice Tsoho said on the strength of the information brought before the court by the applicant via the ex parte motion dated and filed on September 26, 2018, “the prayers sought therein, are granted.”
Bedding Holdings had, in 2010 sued INEC and some others for infringing on its exclusive “Patent Rights No: RP16642 and Copyrights Design No: RD13841 in and over Electronic Collapsible Transparent Ballot Boxes (ECTBB) and Patent Rights No: NG/P/2010/202 – Proof of Address System/Scheme (PASS) – Embedded with the Concept of the Coded Metal Plate.”
In the suit marked:FHC/ABJ/CS/816/2010, the firm claimed that the inventions, which its exclusive patent and copy rights covered, were deployed by INEC and the other defendants “for the production of voters’ register for the 2011 general elections, among other elections, without its prior license, consent and authorisation.”
In a judgment on January 28, 2014, then Chief Judge of the Federal High Court, Justice Ibrahim Auta, agreed with Beddings Holdings’ claims and granted all its declaratory and monitary reliefs.
Justice Auta ordered among others, that BHL “is entitled to 50 per cent of the total contract sum of N34, 517,640,000.00,(which is N17,258,820,000.00) being the minimum reasonable royalty accruable to the plaintiff for the production, procurement, supply, acquisition, importation, purchase, receipt, sale of the Direct Data Capturing Machine, laptops and/or any other equipment ancillary to, or associated with the process and application of the said products for the registration of voters and or the collation/compilation and production of the voters’ register for the 2011 general elections and any other elections by the defendants, without first seeking and obtaining the consent of the plaintiff.”
Meanwhile, TRACKNEWS.NG earlier reported that the Senate approved the sum of N234.51 billion for the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) ahead of 2019 general elections. The approved amount is about N7.9 billion less than the N242.45 billion requested by President Buhari.
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