GARNISHEE PROCEEDINGS – Whether a judgment debtor can bring an application for stay of execution of a Garnishee Order Absolute pending an appeal

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“Only one issue stands out starkly for consideration here. It is the status and locus of a judgment debtor to file an application for stay of execution of the Garnishee Order Absolute. This issue had been settled by this Court in Gwede v. Delta State House of Assembly & Anor (2019) 8 NWLR pt. 1673 pg. 30 at 50, a judgment of this Court on all fours with the facts of this case. The judgment debtor has abundant and not merely sufficient legal interest. The law is that the person whose money with the garnishee is being attached has a right to stay the attachment of his money by Garnishee Order absolute pending the conclusion of any legal process to challenge the decision of the garnishee proceedings or the substantive case that formed the basis of the garnishee proceedings. In fact, Gwede v. Delta State House of Assembly Supra decided in 2019 has answered the main issue submitted for determination in this appeal. The distinction without a difference which learned Appellant’s counsel sought to make between this appeal and Gwede did not take into consideration the far reaching settled points in Gwede in respect of the status of the judgment in garnishee proceedings. I agree with the Court below that the judgment of this Court was in respect of an unliquidated sum of money yet to be agreed and ascertained by the parties. The ascertainment of a calculated sum to which a Garnishee Order may apply had not been done. As was stated clearly in Gwede v. Delta State House of Assembly, this is one of the instances where the judgment debtor may step in to protect the res. Indeed the Court must also step in to protect the judgment debt sought to be attached before all issues in controversy in the garnishee or appellate proceedings are settled.” Per HELEN MORONKEJI OGUNWUMIJU, JSC in SANI v. KOGSHA & ORS (2021-LCER-40499-SC) (Pp 45 – 46; Paras A – D)

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