The federal government was able to block the accounts of 20 #EndSARS activists after it informed the Abuja Federal High Court that funds in their accounts may be linked to terrorist activities.
This is stated in a written statement in support of the ex parte petition filed by the Central Bank of Nigeria.
CBN froze 20 accounts in the second week of October and subsequently went to court demanding a unilateral freezing order.
However, in case number FHC / ABJ / CS / 1384/2020, filed by judge A.R. Mohammed, CBN did not mention that the 20 accounts belonged to persons who participated in the #EndSARS protests, but the Court stated that the funds may have come from terrorist activities.
The written address read in part: “My lord, the nature of the transactions carried out through the accounts of the defendants is related to the suspicion of terrorist financing in violation of section 13 (1) (a) and (b) of the Terrorism (Prevention) (Amendment) Act 2013 and Regulations 31 (2) (a) and (3) (b) of the Central Bank of Nigeria on Anti-Money Laundering / Combating the Financing of Terrorism, 2013 “
An affidavit of support filed by a certain Aondovasa Jacob on behalf of CBN alleged that the head of economic intelligence at the governor’s department of CBN, Joseph Omayuku, had investigated the accounts of the defendants and others. individuals and legal entities held in designated banks in Nigeria.
According to the affidavit, the investigation showed that the account holders may have been involved in terrorist activities.
He added: “There are serious allegations that the defendants are involved in the suspicion of financing terrorism through their bank accounts, in violation of the provisions of existing laws and regulations. The aforementioned transactions carried out by the Defendants using their bank accounts could cause significant economic and security damage to the population and the Federal Republic of Nigeria if not monitored.
“The plaintiff (CBN manager) therefore wishes to be empowered by the court to freeze the 20 accounts listed in the annex to this application and all other bank accounts held by the defendants.
“The order of this distinguished court to freeze the accounts of the accused would also allow the actions of the accused to be investigated to their logical conclusion in order to report the same to the Financial Intelligence Unit of Nigeria.”
Apex Bank said that if the order is not submitted, it cannot guarantee that the money will remain intact while the investigation continues.
The 20 accounts frozen by CBN are at Access Bank, Guaranty Trust Bank, Fidelity Bank, United Bank for Africa and Zenith Bank.
The accounts were reportedly tagged after receiving the money with the description #EndSARS.
One of the frozen accounts, designated 0056412470 and registered with Access Bank, belongs to Bolatito Olorunrin Oduala, an #EndSARS activist who has been appointed to the Lagos State Judicial Panel established by Governor Babajide Sanvo Olu.
Another blocked account, marked 0033974485 and registered with Access Bank, belongs to Bassey Israel, coordinator of the #EndSARS medical protest group in Port Harcourt.
Likewise, an account marked 0054676984, registered with Access Bank, belongs to Gatefield Nigeria Limited, which paid freelance journalists to cover the protests.
Judge Mohammed froze accounts for 180 days after the extension, but said anyone unsatisfied with the verdict could challenge it.
Illegal freezing of demonstrators’ accounts – Yesufu
A prominent member of #EndSARS protesters, Aisha Yesufu, characterized the account freezing of #EndSARS protesters as illegal, noting that the government was “acting like a terrorist.”
He questioned the freezing of accounts pending a court order for banks to freeze accounts.
Yesufu said, “The question is, why did they freeze the accounts before receiving the court decision? Why illegality? Our judiciary needs to know that this is an independent branch of government and that there is a separation of powers.
“The government should be ashamed. The UAE has just sentenced some Nigerians on terrorism charges and there are rumors that the government will appeal on their behalf. This is where the problem is. “
The activist accused the federal government of corrupting the rebels by suppressing peaceful and harmless protesters.
He added: “#EndSARS activists are protesters and they protested in the manner permitted by the Constitution, so this is all a scam. They should have focused better on the terrorists.
“The thugs lay down their arms and carry them to government homes, while Boko Haram members enjoy benefits, but Nigerian protesters have been killed by the government. The government is acting like a terrorist now. “
Source: – Punch ng