N3.4 Billion Debt: Appeal Court refers Makinde, ex-council officials to dispute resolution centre

The Abuja Division of the Court of Appeal has referred Governor Seyi Makinde of Oyo and the embattled former local government chairmen and councillors in the state to the court’s Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) centre over settlement of the outstanding N3.4 billion debt.

Justice Elfreda Williams-Daudu gave the order after counsel for the state government, Ayodele Akintunde, and that of the ex-LG officials, Musibau Adetunbi, took their house-cleaning motions.

The development occurred during the hearing of the notice of motion for stay of execution filed by Mr Makinde and six others against the April 27 order absolute of Justice A. O. Ebong of an FCT High Court, Bwari, in furtherance of a Supreme Court judgment given on May 7, 2021, ordering the governor to pay the outstanding salaries and allowances of the sacked council officials.

Mr Akintunde, who informed the three-member panel about a motion for a stay of execution filed, said the matter was about payment of judgment debt.

He told the panel led by Justice Williams-Daudu that the state government was not disputing the payment of the money but that his clients were asking for more favourable payment terms.

The senior lawyer argued that the Oyo State government would not be able to pay the judgment debt in the way and manner ordered by the lower court, considering its monthly allocation from the Federation Account Allocation Committee (FAAC) for both the state and local governments, its contractual obligations, payment of wages and salaries, among others.

But Mr Adetunbi disagreed, insisting that the state government can pay the money as set out in the judgment.

He said there was no dispute about whether or not the Oyo State government could immediately pay the N1.3 billion as ordered by Justice Ebong because the bank had written to confirm that they had monies belonging to the state government in their coffers.

The panel, however, agreed that the money cannot be paid now since there is a pending appeal before it.

Ms Williams-Daudu held that after carefully considering the case, it was agreed that the matter should be sent to the Court of Appeal ADR Centre for the issue to be possibly resolved between the parties.

According to her, the process will be swift ‘because it is faster and devoid of undue rigidity as it is with the normal court process.”

She then asked the lawyers to ensure that the parties with the authority to make decisions participate in the mediation process at the ADR centre, as mediation is party-driven, and they must ensure that they both work out a way to ensure the payment of the judgment sum.

Ms Williams-Daudu adjourned the matter until July 6 for the report on a possible settlement between both parties.


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