Thursday, September 23, 2021

Tough Christmas for Benue workers as court freezes state’s bank accounts

A garnishee order was enforced against the state’s liquid assets as part of an ongoing civil lawsuit instituted by 96 civil servants.

• December 25, 2020
Samuel Ortom (Credit: Benue State Government Website)
Benue State governor, Samuel Ortom (Credit: Benue State Government Website)

Governor Samuel Ortom on Thursday said his administration was incapable of fulfilling its financial obligations to Benue civil servants in December following a garnishee order by the High Court of the Federal Capital Territory against the state accounts. 

Briefing newsmen in Makurdi on behalf of the governor, the state commissioner for information Ngunan Addingi said no fewer than 23 bank accounts being run by the Ortom administration had been frozen over a N1.148 billion judgement debt.

In her narration of what prompted the court order, which has since paralysed government spendings, Ms. Addingi stated that “some aggrieved non-indigenes working in the state, who were redeployed to their states in 2007 under the State Universal Basic Education Board took the state government to court to protest the action.”

“Consequently in 2008, the court in the case between Juliana Igweka and 95 others versus SUBEB and Attorney General of Benue State, declared that the affected persons be reinstated in the civil service,” she disclosed, adding that “counsels for the applicants in turn went back to court asking for monetary compensation, which was not part of the original judgment.”
Ms. Addingi explained that the non-indigene staffers took their quest for reparation up a notch by approaching different courts in Nasarawa and the FCT, where they secured garnishee orders on all accounts of the state.

“The orders were served yesterday (Wednesday), thereby crippling all government activities, including payment of salaries,” the information commissioner said.

The development, which coincides with the Yuletide festivities, has left civil servants in the state high and dry.

Governor Ortom has, however, directed the state attorney general to commence the process of appealing the garnishee orders.

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