Frozen accounts

Frozen accounts of the #EndSars protesters by the CBN was possible after the apex bank told the high court that the accounts may have been linked to terrorism or terroristhe activities.

The Central Bank of Nigeria, in order to freeze the accounts of the 20 #EndSARS promoters, told the Federal High Court in Abuja that the funds in their accounts might have been linked to terrorist activities.

According to a report from Punch, this was contained in a written address in support of a motion ex parte filed by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).

In the case with suit number FHC/ABJ/CS/1384/2020, filed before Justice A. R. Mohammed, the CBN, however, did not mention that these 20 bank accounts were owned by individuals and organization that were involved in the #EndSARS protests, but told the court that the funds might have emanated from terrorist activities.

The written address partly reads, “My lord, the nature of the transactions undertaken through the defendants’ accounts are of suspected terrorism financing in contravention of Section 13(1)(a) and(b) of the Terrorism (Prevention)(Amendment) Act, 2013 and Regulation 31(2)(a) and (3)(b) of the Central Bank of Nigeria Anti-Money Laundering/Combating the Financing of Terrorism Regulations, 2013.”

In a supporting affidavit deposed to by one Aondowase Jacob, on behalf of the CBN, it was stated that the Head of the Economic Intelligence Unit of the Governor’s Department, CBN, Joseph Omayuku, had conducted an investigation on the accounts of the defendants and other individuals and entities held with certain banks in Nigeria.

According to the affidavit, the investigation showed that the owners of the accounts may have been involved in terrorist activities.

It added, “There is a grave allegation that the defendants are involved in suspected terrorism financing via their bank accounts in contravention of the provisions of extant laws and regulations. The aforesaid transactions undertaken by the defendants, using their bank accounts, can cause significant economic and security harm to the public and the Federal Republic of Nigeria if left unchecked.

The applicant (CBN Governor) is thus desirous to have the court empower him to direct the freezing of the 20 accounts listed on the annexure to this application and all other bank accounts held by the defendants.

“A freezing order of this honorable court in respect of the defendants’ accounts would also enable the investigation of the activities of the defendants to a logical conclusion, with a view to reporting same to the Nigerian Financial Intelligence Unit.

The apex bank said unless the order was granted, it would not be able to ensure that the money remained intact, while investigations were ongoing.

The 20 accounts frozen by the CBN after they had been flagged for receiving money with the narration #EndSARS, are domiciled in Access Bank, Guaranty Trust Bank, Fidelity Bank, United Bank for Africa, and Zenith Bank.

Justice Mohammed froze the accounts for 180 days subject to renewal, but said anyone who was not satisfied with the ruling was free to challenge it.

Nairametrics had reported that the CBN had gotten a court order to freeze the accounts of 20 #EndSARS protesters in various banks. The ex parte order to freeze the accounts was sought by the apex bank after it had frozen the accounts.

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