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Emefiele must appear over N182bn judgment debt, Court insists

Emefiele must appear over N182bn judgment debt, Court insists

Eric Ikhilae, Abuja

A Federal High Court in Abuja has insisted that Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) Governor, Godwin Emefiele must attend court to answer to contempt proceedings pending against him over his alleged refusal to obey an order ordering the payment of about N182billion judgment debt given against Shell Petroleum Development Ltd.

The order, allegedly disobeyed by Emefiele was a garnishee order absolute made on March 2, 2020, by Justice Inyang Ekwo in fulfilment of an earlier judgment given on June 14, 2020, by Justice Ibrahim Buba (of the Federal High Court, Port-Harcourt) in a suit by Chief Isaac Osaro Agbara and some other leaders of an Ogoni community affected by oil spill occasioned by Shell.

By the order made by Justice Ekwo, the CBN Governor was to order the release of the judgment sum from the account of First Bank Plc, which issued a guarantee on behalf of Shell.

At the resumption of proceedings in the contempt case on Wednesday, lawyer to the judgment creditor, Lucius Nwosu (SAN) frowned at Emefiele’s absence.

Nwosu said a contempt proceeding is semi-criminal in nature and requires the physical presence of the defendant in court to show cause why he should not be committed to prison for disobeying a valid and subsisting court order.

Lawyer to Emefiele, Damian Dodo (SAN) said it was not in the character of his client to disrespect the court.

Dodo assured the court that Emefiele would act as required by the court at the appropriate time.

He sought time to enable his client to attend court.

Lawyer to Shell, Olawale Akoni (SAN) told the court that he filed a motion praying the court to dismiss the contempt proceedings.

Justice Taiwo Taiwo agreed to an adjournment as sought by Dodo.

Justice Taiwo directed that Emefiele and other parties obey the court, adding that the court expects the CBN Governor to obey the court on the adjourned date and adjourned till January 27 next year.

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