Central Bank of Nigeria v Chief Ubana (CA/A/302/2013)[2016] NGCA 59 (19 April 2016) (CA/A/302/2013) [2016] NGCA 59 (18 April 2016);

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  • Central Bank of Nigeria v Chief Ubana (CA/A/302/2013)[2016] NGCA 59 (19 April 2016) (CA/A/302/2013) [2016] NGCA 59 (18 April 2016);

Flynote: CL Jurisdiction
Headnote and Holding:

The court considered whether money accruing to the state can be subject to a garnishee order and whether the trial court had jurisdiction to entertain the proceedings. 

This case concerned an appeal of a garnishee order on the basis that the court below erred in adjudicating upon the matter as a it did not have the requisite jurisdiction. 

On the first issue, the court found that money had accrued to the state and thus they were entitled to the garnishee order.

On the second issue, the court the court found that jurisdiction is not exercised at large but must be exercised within the confines of the law. In effect, a court can only be clothed with jurisdiction if and only if it was competently constituted in the proceedings before it. 

The factors which determine jurisdiction of a court are 1) the subject matter of the case is within its jurisdiction; 2) there is no feature of the case which prevents the court from exercising jurisdiction and 3) the case comes before the court initiated by due process of law. 

Therefore, the court found that the trial court had acted within the confines of their jurisdiction. 

Appeal dismissed.
 

 
 
In the Court of Appeal
Holden at Abuja

 

Between

Appellant

CENTRAL BANK OF NIGERIA

and

Respondent

CHIEF OBLA UBANA
CHIEF ETENG UBI
CHIEF UBI EFFIOM
CHIEF IMON OKON
CHIEF BASSEY UKENETUS
MR. OTU EGBE
ATTORNEY GENERAL & COMMISSIONER OF JUSTICE, CROSS RIVER STATE
COMMISSIONER OF WORKS, LANDS & SURVEY CROSS RIVER STATE
YUKUR LOCAL GOVERNMENT CROSS RIVER STATE.

 

Judgement

MOHAMMED MUSTAPHA, JCA: This is an appeal by the garnishee/appellant against the decision of the Federal Capital Territory High Court, Abuja presided over by Honorable Justice Chizoba N. Orji, delivered on the 28th of February 2013 by an amended notice of appeal filed on the 1st of July, 2013 on four grounds as follows:

GROUND ONE:

The learned trial Judge erred in law when she held;

"I have considered the affidavit and submission of both learned counsel. It is clear that though there appears to be a conflict in affidavit to show cause and the further affidavit to show cause on one hand and the judgment creditor further and better affidavit to Garnishee, affidavit to show cause on the other hand, a close security of both sets of affidavit shows that the garnishee does not dispute that a Federal (sic) account exists with the Garnishee out of which monthly disbursements are made to each state including Cross River State Government. I am therefore in agreement with the judgment creditor that the order nisi be made absolute with regards to the monies in the said Federation account which are accruing to the government of Cross River State"

GROUND TWO:

The learned trial Judge erred in law when she held:

"I think the garnishee is relying on a technicality that there is no account in the name of Cross River State in their argument that there is nothing on which the order nisi can be made absolute-Whatever is due to the Cross River State in the Federation Account in my humble view can be subject to a decree absolute.”

GROUND THREE:

The learned trial Judge erred in law when she tried the Garnishee proceedings brought before her by the Judgment Creditors while she had no jurisdiction to do so.

GROUND FOUR:

The learned trial Judge erred in law when she tried the Garnishee proceedings brought before her by the Judgment Creditors without jurisdiction.

The appellant did not advance any argument in respect of ground three; the law is settled that any ground of appeal formulated and not argued is deemed abandoned and if abandoned, it is treated as it never existed. The said ground three of the Appellant's grounds of appeal is hereby struck out. See ADENIYI V. OROJA (2006) ALL FWLR (PT.324) P-1839 @ 1859.

From the three grounds left standing, i.e, 1, 2 and 4 the following issues were formulated for the appellant:
 
1. Whether monies accruing to a state in the Federation account from its monthly share of Federal revenue can be subject of a garnishee order against the Central Bank.
2. Whether the learned trial judge had jurisdiction to entertain the garnishee proceedings.

It is important to note from the onset that this appeal with leave of court is to be heard on the briefs of the appellant and the first set of respondents only.

The first set of respondents adopted the issues formulated for the appellant; they also filed a notice of preliminary objection which was argued on the following grounds:

1. Ground 3 and 4 raise fresh issues on jurisdiction not arising from the ruling of the lower court appealed against and are incompetent. No issue formulated out of the said incompetent grounds without leave of this Honourable Court first sought and obtained can be entertained.
2. Any Ground of Appeal raising fresh and or new issues without leave of court are liable to be struck

This court will first resolve the matter of the preliminary objection one way or the other before proceeding to the substance of the appeal.

It is submitted for the first set of respondents that the appellant did not clearly state that issue two was derived from grounds 3 and 4y both of which border on jurisdiction, and argued them both under the same issue two.

That issue two raised a new ground of jurisdiction for the first time before this court, without seeking leave of court; learned counsel referred the court to pages 50 to 58 of the record of appeal ORIORIO & 14 ORS V. OSA1N & 2'ORS (2012) 5 SC part 111 page 101.

While referring to Order 7 Rule 6 of the Court of Appeal Rules, section 24 of the Court of Appeal Act, 2010 and DEACON J.K OSHATOBA & ANOTHER V. JOHNSON OLUJITAN & ANR (2000) SC 33/1994 learned counsel further submitted that the appellant required leave of court to raise fresh issue of jurisdiction before the Court of Appeal.

That the appellant did nothing when the issue of jurisdiction was raised by the 2nd set of respondents, and yet raised a fresh issue of jurisdiction before this court without obtaining leave; he urged this court to strike out grounds 3 and 4.

In response to the preliminary objection it is submitted for the appellant that the issue of jurisdiction can be raised at any point in time, even at the Supreme Court for the first time without leave of court; learned counsel referred the court to OWNERS, M.V.GONGOLA HOPE & ANR V. SMURFIT CASES NIG. LTD. 7 ANR (2007) ALL FWLR part 388 at 1017, OBIAKOR & ANR V STATE (2002) 10 NWLR part 776 at 612 and ALHAJI SAKA OPOBIYI & ANR V LAY! WO LA MUNIRU (2011) LPELR-8232-SC.

Ground three was struck out earlier by this court, it is needless therefore wasting precious time on whether it ought to have been struck out on grounds raised In the preliminary objection; that being so, we now are left with only ground 4 also complained of.

It is very important in the considered opinion of this court to take account of the fact that the question of jurisdiction or lack of it is not only elementary law but also rudimentary law; It no longer admits of any argument that the question of jurisdiction can be raised at the court of trial, here or before the Supreme Court, that much is trite. See ONI V. CADBURY NIGERIA PLC (2016) LPELR-26061(SC).
One does not need leave of court to raise the issue of jurisdiction, it can be raised at any stage of litigation even for the first time on appeal, and this is more so since it can be raised by the court Suo Moto in order to avoid an exercise in futility. See A.G BENUE STATE V. UMAR (2008) 1 NWLR part 1068 311 at 248.

Having said that it is very important to point out also that, the sole purpose of a preliminary objection is to terminate the appeal in Its entirety, usually on grounds of incompetence. An attack on one ground of appeal leaving several grounds that can sustain the appeal does not come within the realm of preliminary 'objection- See MUHAMMED v. MILITARY ADMINISTRATOR, PLATEAU  STATE  (2001)   16 NWLR (Pt. 740) 524; NDIC v. ORANU (2001) 18 NWLR (Pt. 744) 183."

Where as in this Appeal the Preliminary objection was filed against some grounds of appeal and there are other grounds of appeal that can sustain the appeal, the preliminary objection is to say the least inappropriate. The respondent ought to have filed a Motion on Notice, specifically against the grounds complained of, since the preliminary objection even if successful would not have terminated the hearing of the appeal as there are other grounds of appeal left standing to sustain the appeal. See ASIKPO & ANR V. GEORGE & ANR (2013) 22031- LPELR-CA.

In the circumstances therefore the preliminary objection is accordingly dismissed; having resolved and dismissed the preliminary objection I now proceed to the substance of the main appeal.

It is necessary to give priority of place to the second issue by reason of the fact that it revolves around jurisdiction, that being so I intend to resolve the second issue first, and subsequently issue one follows.

Issue Two:
Whether the learned trial judge had jurisdiction to entertain the garnishee proceedings.

It is submitted for the appellant while referring to section 104 and 105 of the Sheriff and Civil Process Act that the procedure therein was not followed, as there is no evidence that the judgment creditors applied for a certificate of registration of the judgment of the Ugep High Court in Abuja as required; as a result it is argued that the judgment did not become a judgment of the FCT High Court, and therefore the trial court had no jurisdiction to entertain the garnishee proceeding.
That also section 251 (1) of the constitution ousts the jurisdiction of the FCT High Court, and all other courts, except the Federal High Court in civil matters in which the Central Bank of Nigeria is involved.

That the judgment sought to be enforced is a nullity because compensation for land cannot be claimed under Fundamental Rights Enforcement Rules, learned counsel referred the court to AM ALE V. 50K0T0 LGA (2012) ALL FWLR part 615 at 833.

In response it is submitted for the 1st set of respondents that all that is required by sections 104 and 105 of the Sheriffs and Civil Process Act is a certificate of judgment from the court that gave the judgment, and that has been complied with.

That also a garnishee proceeding is not a civil cause or matter as contemplated by section 251 (1) of the 1999 constitution, neither is it any action by or against Central Bank of Nigeria as contemplated.

Learned counsel submitted that the garnishee proceeding is for the enforcement of a judgment of a court of competent jurisdiction, which has not been appealed by the 2nd set of respondents.

On the issue of Fundamental Rights Enforcement Procedure it is submitted for the 1st set of respondents that the appellant was not a party in the substantive case before the High Court in Ugep and neither was there any appeal by the appellant or even the 2nri set of respondents on this point.

That the issue was not raised before the trial court and so cannot be raised before this court as it has no bearing with the ruling of the 28th of February 2013r especially as no leave was sought or obtained.

Jurisdiction whether of this court or even that of the Supreme Court is not exercised at large, but must be exercised within the confines of the law. In effect a Court can only be clothed with jurisdiction if and only if it was competently constituted in the proceedings before it, see ONI V. CADBURY PLC (2016) LPELR-26061-SC.
In MADUKOLU V. NKEMDILIM (1962) 2 SCNLR 341, the Supreme Court laid down in clear terms factors which determine the jurisdiction of a court as follows:

a) That the subject matter of the case is within its jurisdiction;
b) That there is no feature in the case which prevents the court from exercising its jurisdiction;
c) That the case comes before the court initiated by due process of law and upon fulfillment of any condition precedent to the exercise of jurisdiction.

The question of jurisdiction is very fundamental, so much so that it should be determined first by the courts before starting any proceedings. If the Courts proceed without jurisdiction, all proceedings however well conducted amount to a nullity, see UKWU V. BUNGE 1997 8 NWLR PT.578 PG 527, JERIC NIG LTD V. UNION BANK OF NIG PLC 2000 12 SC PT 2 OF 133, AG LAGOS STATE V. DOSUNMU 1998 3 NWLR PT 111 PG.552, NONYE V. ANYICHIE 2005 2 NWLR PT 910 PG.623.

Once a court lacks jurisdiction, a party cannot use any statutory provision or Common Law princip.es to impose it because absence of jurisdiction is irreparable in law. The matter ends there and the only procedural duty of the Court is to strike out the matter. See UMANAH V. ATTAH (2006) 17 NWLR PT.1009 PG 503.

Having said that, on the first limb of the issue of jurisdiction raised, it should be borne in mind that the provisions of sections 104 and 105 of the Sheriff and Civil Process Act are very clear and unambiguous; they state thus:

104 "any person in whose favour a judgment is given or made in a court of any state or the capital territory may obtain from the registrar or other proper officer of such court a certificate of such judgment in the form and containing the particulars set forth in the second schedule or as near thereto as the circumstances will permit, which certificate such officer is hereby required to grant under his hand and the seal of such court."

105(1) "upon production of such certificate to the registrar or other proper officer of any court of like jurisdiction in any other state or the capital territory such officer shall forthwith register the same by entering the particulars thereof in a book to be kept by such officer and to be called "the Nigerian Register of judgment".
(2) from the date of registration the certificate shall be a record of the court in which it is registered, and shall have the same force and effect in all respects as a judgment of that court, and the like proceedings may be taken upon the certificate as if the judgment had been a judgment of that court."

From the forgoing it suffices if the judgment creditor as in this case obtains a certificate of judgment from the court that gave the judgment, in compliance with section 104, as was done in this case; and writing to the register of the High Court of the Federal Capital Territory, informing him of the desire to register the judgment obtained at Ugep High court, by the 1st set of respondents, and producing the said certificate, as in pages 26 and 67 to 86 of the record of appeal equally suffices for the purpose of compliance with section 105,

This is more so as the 1st set of respondents sought and obtained an order of the FCT High Court deeming the judgment of High Court Ugep as the judgment of High Court FCT, and this was not appealed, see page 1 to 28 of the record of appeal.

On the second limb of the objection to jurisdiction it is submitted for the 1st set of respondents that garnishee proceeding is not a civil cause or matter as contemplated by section 251 (1) of the constitution.

For the avoidance of doubt the relevant portions of section 251 (1) of the constitution read as follows:

"Notwithstanding anything to the contrary contained in this constitution...the Federal High Court shall have and exercise jurisdiction to the exclusion of any other court in civil causes and matters;
(d) connected with or pertaining to banking, banks, other financial institutions, including any action between one bank and another, any action by or against the Central Bank of Nigeria arising from banking, foreign exchange, coinage, legal tender, bills of exchange, letters of credit, promissory notes and other fiscal measures."

Section 251(1) (d) of the constitution is so clear it is plain, and its applicability to the situation at hand is to say the least inadequate; this is so because whichever way one looks at jurisdiction it garnishee proceedings though clearly a means of enforcement of judgments cannot be properly termed as substantive civil or criminal suit covered by the provisions of section 251 (1) of the constitution; and in any event, as rightly pointed out, the appellant was not even a party in suit No. HUG/4/2010 before the High court at Ugep, which delivered the judgment now sought to be enforced; the appellant only became a party for the purpose of the garnishee proceedings, after the first set of respondents, sought to enforce the judgment of the Ugep High court which was not even appealed.

The issues at the trial did not, and could not therefore have related to matters of banking, or be "...connected with, pertaining to, or arise from banking..." within the meaning and purport of section 251 (1) (d) of the constitution.

In the circumstances therefore this court is of the firm view that the High court of the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja had jurisdiction to entertain the matter of the garnishee proceeding as it did on this score.

Now on the third limb of the objection to jurisdiction, the matter had been dealt with substantially while resolving the preliminary objection, but for the avoidance of doubt it is restated, at the risk of repetition that even if the issue is a fresh one, not raised before the trial court, and coming up before this court for the first time leave of court is neither needed nor necessary, because it is trite that jurisdiction can be raised at any point, before this court or indeed the Supreme Court, see ONI V. CADBURY NIGERIA PLC supra and See A.G BENUE STATE V. UMAR supra.

Once a procedure is wrong on account of jurisdiction it is wrong for ail times, and to all intents and purposes; in the absence of an appeal against the judgment of the High Court of Ugep this court does not see the need or necessity for a pronouncement on that judgment, even though the said judgment is the genesis of the garnishee proceeding there is nothing before this court to show that it was appealed.

A finding which has not been appealed against remains valid and subsisting, for all times, and an appellate court would have no jurisdiction, to consider and determine such an issue, and no argument can be presented to the contrary of the ruling; see I3ALE V A.G. LEVENTIS & CO LTD (1959) SCNLR 255; in view of the forgoing, this court does not have the inclination much less desire to go into the merits of the decision of the Ugep High Court.

Now this court found that the High Court of the FCT acted within jurisdiction when it entertained the garnishee proceeding, by reason of the fact that section 251(1) (d) of the constitution does not apply to the situation at hand; this is especially so because the material issue before the court did not relate to or is “……connected with, pertaining to, or arising from banking……”

The order absolute granted to the 1st set of respondents on the 28th of February 2013 by the High Court of the Federal Capital territory is not only valid as a result, but in order; this issue is accordingly resolved in favour of the 1st set of respondents, and against the appellant.

Issue One:
Whether monies accruing to a state in the Federation Account from its monthly share of Federal Revenue can be subject of a garnishee order against the Central Bank.

It is submitted for the appellant that neither the Cross River State Government nor any of its agencies against whom the judgment creditors obtained judgment had an account with the garnishee, and so there was no money against which a garnishee order could be made.

That the judgment creditors did not allege that the garnishee was indebted to the judgment debtors in any amount; that a common ground for granting a garnishee order is that there must be a debt owing and payable to the judgment debtor from the garnishee at the time the order is made.

That also the order nisi granted to the judgment creditors on the 1st of March, 2012 was in error as there was no debt due and owing to the judgment debtors on the date of the order.

Learned counsel further submitted that the order absolute granted to the judgment creditors on the 28lh of February 2013 is different from the order nisi granted on the 1st of March, 2012, which the judgment creditors sought to make absolute; because the order nisi was made in respect of "..-amount remaining to the accounts of the judgment debtors..." while the order absolute is in respect "...monies accruing..."; that the two are a contradiction in terms.

That there was no order for the attachment of the state's share of the Federation Account in the order nisi, so the order absolute cannot form part of that; especially as the garnishee has no power to seize a state's share by making deductions; learned counsel referred the court to IGE V. OYIIMLOLA (1984) All NLR 150.

It is submitted for the first set of respondents in response that the claim by the appellant that the Cross River State Government does not maintain an account with the appellant is not supported by the law establishing the appellant, learned counsel referred the court to section 36 (2) of the CBN Act, 2010 and section 162 (1), (3) and (4) of the constitution.

That the monies due and owing by the appellant to the Cross River State Government for which the garnishee order nisi attached on the 1st of March 2012 is the monthly allocation of the Cross River 5tate Government from the Federation Account; learned counsel referred this court to A.G.BENDEL STATE V A.G.FEDERATIONS & ORS (1981) MSCC 314 at 352.

Learned counsel further submitted that as at 28th February 2013 when the trial court made the order nisi absolute, the order was in respect of the allocation accruing to the appellant as at March, 2012 which the court attached on the l5t of March, 2012-

That also the order absolute is not different form the order nisi; as what the appellant claimed to be the difference is the consequential order.

In reply it is submitted for the appellant while referring to AWONIYI V RE. TRUSTEE OF AMORC (2002) 10 NWLR part 676 at 522 that a consequential order cannot be made to grant an entirely new relief which is not aligned to the original relief of the party in whose favour it is made.

That also the omnibus prayer cannot be relied because it is a meaningless prayer which does not constitute a prayer at all, because it is merely an embellishment to the face of a motion; learned counsel referred the court to DUNLOP & RANKEM LTD V HENDALL STREET STRUCTURES LTD (1957) All E.R at 347 and U.B.A V S.G.B LTD (1996) 10 NWLR part 478 at 390.
It is very important for the effectual resolution of this issue to have recourse to the Central Bank of Nigeria (establishment) Act, 2010, i.e. By determining the question of whether the Cross River State Government maintains an account with the appellant or not; and section 36 reads inter alia:

1)"The Bank shall be entrusted with the Federal Government Banking and Foreign Exchange transactions.
2) The Bank shall receive and disburse Federal Government monies and keep account thereof,
3) In any place where the bank has no branch, it may appoint another bank to act as its agent for the collection and payment of federal government monies.”

It is very clear from the foregoing that while there may not be an account maintained by the Cross River State Government, individually, with the appellant, in the traditional sense of the word, the appellant is indeed entrusted with the custody of monies meant for Cross River State Government, and other states in its kitty, which it shares or disburses in accordance with section 36 (2) above, and the Federation Account is one of such sources of monies. This is manifest in Section 162 of the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 which provides thus:

1) "The Federation shall maintain a special account to be called "the Federation Account" into which shall be paid all revenues collected by the government of the federation...
2) ...
3) Any amount standing to the credit of the Federation Account shall be distributed among the Federal and State Governments and the Local government councils in each state on such terms and such manner as may be prescribed by the National Assembly.
4) Any amount standing to the credit of state in the Federation Account shall be distributed among the states on such terms and in such manner as may be prescribed by the National Assembly...
10) For the purpose of subsection (1) of this section, "revenue'' means any income or return accruing to or derived by the Government of the Federation from any source and includes:
a) Any receipt, however described, arising from the operation of any law;
b) Any return, however described, arising from or in respect of any property held by the Government of the Federation;
c) Any return by way of interest on loans and dividends in respect of shares or interest held by the Government of the Federation in any company or statutory body."

In this respect clearly the garnishee order nisi of the 1st of March, 2012 attached the monthly allocation of the Cross River State Government, from the Federation Account for the month of March 2012, owed by the appellant, see RE: DIAMOND BANK LTD. (2002) 17 NWLR PT.795 PAGE 120; SOKOTO STATE GOVERNMENT VS. KAMOLEX (NIG.) LTD. (2004) 9 NWLR PT.878 PAGE 345.

Contrary to the contention of learned counsel to the appellant, the 1st set of respondents did indeed state at paragraph 18 of their motion for garnishee at page 35 of the record of proceedings to the effect that the garnishee was indebted to the judgment debtors; and in any event the question of the existence or none of debt can be ascertained by a simple question, thus: can the Cross River State Government be entitled to sue the Central  Bank of Nigeria  i.e. the appellant, if the Central Bank refuses or fails to pay or release monies meant for the Cross River State Government for that month? If the answer to this question is in the affirmative, then it is the considered opinion of this court that it's a debt that can be garnisheed; this is bearing in mind that It is a trite principle, that it's not every debt that can be   attached   by   the   due   process   of garnishee proceedings, as a debt can only be attached when it is due, or accruing to the judgment debtor. See section 85 Of the SHERIFFS AND CIVIL PROCESS ACT CAP.56 LAWS OF THE FEDERAL REPUBLIC OF NIGERIA, 2004, as amended.

As at 28th February 2013 when the order was made absolute the monthly allocation to the Cross River State Government from the Federation Account, for the month of March 2012 cannot be said to be futuristic in nature.

The order nisi having been made, the appellant if anything ought to have set aside the monies in obedience to the court order in anticipation of the garnishee proceedings, because the 2 set of respondents became entitled, as of right, to the judgment debt, the moment the decree nisi was made on the 1st of March, 2012, that being so the order absolute was not made futuristically when it was made on the 28th of February, 2013.

It is argued for the appellant that the order nisi and the order absolute are different, Learned counsel argues that the order absolute ought to be set aside, on account of its difference from the order nisi.

This court fails to see the logic or common sense in that contention, much less the law; partly, because this argument fails to take into account that even if the order absolute and the order nisi are not exactly the same, what matters is substance over form; and if the substance of the two are the same they indeed are the same. As the saying goes, if it moves like a duck, and quacks like a duck, then it must be a duck.

But most importantly because courts of law are also courts of justice; that being so, mere use of different words for effect cannot be taken to mean the introduction of something new, see UZOMZ V. ASODIKE (2009) LPELR-8421-CA.

The order nisi attached the amount "...remaining in the account….”, while the order absolute was made with regard to monies accruing..."; clearly whichever way one looks at it the learned trial judge was referring to money meant for the judgment debtor in the appellant's account.

To put it in proper context it is appropriate at this juncture to have recourse to the exact words used by the trial court; it is at page 270 of the record of proceedings, and reads thus:

"I think the garnishee is relying on a technicality that there is no account in the name of Cross River State in their argument that there is nothing on which the order nisi can be made absolute. Whatever is due to the cross river state in the federation account in my humble view can be subject to a decree absolute. I therefore hold that the garnishee has not shown cause why the garnishee order nisi cannot be made absolute.

I therefore make the garnishee order nisi absolute.

This order is with regard to monies accruing to the Cross River State Government in the federation account kept by the garnishee.”

It is clear from the foregoing that the order nisi was not changed by the mere reference to the use of the word 'accruing'; in any event, as argued for the 1st set of respondents, the prayer ex parte dated 16th of December 2011, at pages 31 to 32 among other prayers Included a prayer for, "any order(s) as the court may deem fit and proper to make in the circumstances of this case.".

This court does not share the view that the prayer is omnibus in nature, and   therefore merely an embellishment to the motion ex parte; such a view is farthest from the essence of the prayer; it is the considered opinion of this court that indeed the prayer counts for a lot more.
An omnibus prayer is not worthless. At least in this case, it gave the trial court leverage to give both bark and bite to its orders where it found it necessary to do so, in the overall interest of justice.

What is indeed important in an application of this nature is that the garnishee owes the debtor, and the money owed the debtor is in the custody of the garnishee, and that is what is sought to be attached. That being so the order absolute in this case is impeccable, as it cannot be faulted.

It is completely wrong to suggest in the circumstances that the 1st set of respondents sought for the seizure of the shares of the Cross River State Government in the Federation Account; because the order nisi simply attached the March 2012 monthly allocation, in the custody of the appellant, an order that was subsequently made absolute on the 28lh of February 2013.
This court is satisfied that the trial court did not grant a different relief other than the one sought by the 1st set of respondents, and it does not appear to this court that the trial court was in any doubt as to whether there was a debt in the hand of the garnishee, as to necessitate the calling for evidence to ascertain same; accordingly this issue is resolved in favour of the 1st set of respondents, against the appellants.

Accordingly this issue too is resolved in favour of the 1st set of respondent, against the appellant.

Having resolved the two issues for determination in favour of the respondent, against the appellant the appeal fails for lack of merit and it is hereby dismissed, the ruling of the trial court of the 28th of February 2013 making the garnishee order absolute is hereby upheld.

Cost of N50,000.00 is awarded against the appellant in favour of the 1st set of respondents.

MOORE A. A. ADUMEIN, JCA: I read the draft of the judgment just delivered by my learned brother, Mohammed Mustapha, JCA.

I completely agree that the respondents' preliminary objection lacks merit and I also dismiss it.

My learned brother has, in a very comprehensive manner, dealt with the issues in this appeal. I agree with the Reasoning and conclusion of my learned brother that this appeal lacks merit and it ought to be dismissed.

For the reasons given by my learned brother, I also dismiss this appeal. I abide by the order as to costs.

TANI YUSUF HASSAN, (JCA): I read before now, the lead judgment just delivered by my (earned brother, Mohammed Mustapha, JCA.

I am in agreement with him that this appeal lacks merit and ought to be dismissed. It is accordingly dismissed. I abide by the order as to costs.

Counsel

Theo nkire Esq., with Chikodi Okeji Esq and Victor Chimezie Esq., for the Appellant.
J.O- Obono-Obla with: O.C. Ogar Esq., Miss Aggrey, R.E. Akefele (Mrs.) and F.B. Tsa, for the 1st - 6th Respondents