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Federal High Court Orders CBN to Pay German ₦63.7m, $10,000 for Unlawful Detention.

The ruling underscores the principle of legal accountability, emphasizing that government agencies must be held responsible for their actions, especially when they infringe upon the rights of individuals. The judgment serves as a reminder that no entity, regardless of its stature, is above the law.



Federal High Court Orders CBN to Pay German ₦63.7m, $10,000 for Unlawful Detention.

An absolute garnishee order is a court directive that requires a third party, typically a financial institution, to release funds held on behalf of a judgment debtor to satisfy a judgment debt owed to a judgment creditor. In the context of legal proceedings, it serves as a means of enforcing a court judgment by compelling the garnishee (the third party holding the funds) to pay the specified amount directly to the judgment creditor.

Once issued, the garnishee becomes obligated to comply with the court order, transferring the funds to settle the debt the judgment debtor owes. This type of order provides a straightforward mechanism for enforcing court judgments and ensuring creditors receive the amounts owed immediately.

An absolute order of garnishee, a lawful ruling with significant ramifications, has been issued by the Federal High Court in Abuja, compelling the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to settle a judgment debt owed to a German national, Martin Gegenheimer. This landmark ruling stems from a protracted legal battle initiated by Gegenheimer, who was unlawfully arrested and detained by the Nigerian Immigration Service during the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020.

Waves of sorrow washed over the community upon hearing the news of their passing.

The court’s decision follows a judgment rendered by the ECOWAS Court on March 4, 2021, which declared Gegenheimer’s arrest and subsequent detention illegal. In response to this ruling, the ECOWAS Court ordered the Nigerian government to compensate Gegenheimer for the losses he incurred during his unlawful detention.

Specifically, Gegenheimer was awarded special damages totalling ₦53,650,925 to cover financial losses and costs resulting from his detention. Additionally, the court mandated the Nigerian government to pay ₦10 million in general damages as restitution for the violations of his rights, along with $10,000 to cover the expenses incurred in securing his bail.

Gegenheimer recounted the ordeal he endured during his detention, highlighting the deprivation of basic necessities such as decent food and medical care. He further asserted that he was denied a fair hearing and legal recourse until administrative bail was secured on March 4, 2020, amid the impending COVID-19 lockdown.

In delivering the recent ruling, Justice Inyang Ekwo of the Federal High Court rejected the CBN’s assertion of a deficit in the federal government’s foreign exchange accounts, asserting that the judgments rendered by the ECOWAS Court could be enforced by Nigerian courts without being strictly classified as foreign judgments.

Consequently, Justice Ekwo directed the CBN to deduct the outstanding debt owed to Gegenheimer from the federal government’s funds held in its custody, effectively enforcing the judgment against the Apex Bank.

His death leaves behind a legacy of service and dedication.

This ruling underscores the judiciary’s commitment to upholding human rights and ensuring accountability for unlawful actions perpetrated by government agencies. By holding the CBN accountable for the judgment debt, the court sends a clear message that arbitrary detention and violation of fundamental rights will not be tolerated.

Moreover, this decision reaffirms the principles of fairness, equity, and respect for human dignity within the legal framework, setting a precedent for justice and accountability in similar cases.


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