FG adamant as court unfreezes #EndSARS campaigners’ bank accounts

Published February 11, 2021

Friday Olokor and Kayode Oyero
A Federal High Court in Abuja on Wednesday ordered the Central Bank of Nigeria to immediately unfreeze 20 bank accounts linked to protesters and promoters of # EndSARS .
Justice Ahmed Mohammed gave the order following the sudden withdrawal of a suit instituted against them by the CBN through its counsel , Michael Aondoakaa ( SAN) .
The order which was for 180 days was to enable the CBN probe the alleged crime against the defendants .
Although the order was supposed to be renewed upon an application by the CBN , the apex bank , however , opted to withdraw its earlier application for an extension of time and the subsequent decision of the defendants through their lawyer , Femi Falana ( SAN) , to also withdraw all processes filed against the suit .
When the matter came up on Wednesday , Aondoakaa told the court that he had discussed with counsel for the defendants and in the spirit of reconciliation , his client was withdrawing the suit .
Justice Mohammed , in a short ruling , struck out the suit .
“ All processes filed deemed to have been withdrawn in the spirit of reconciliation , the suit is hereby struck out . The order of November 4, 2020 , freezing the accounts of the respondents is hereby set aside . An order is made de -freezing the accounts of the respondents immediately ” , he said.
The PUNCH reported that the apex bank had in an ex parte application filed on October 20 , 2020 , asked the court to freeze the accounts of the respondents which was granted by Justice Ahmed Mohammed.
The court order was addressed to the Head offices of Access Bank , Fidelity Bank , First Bank of Nigeria , Guaranty Trust Bank , United Bank of Africa and Zenith Bank .
The court directed the banks to freeze all transactions on the accounts on the list annexed to the CBN ’ s application as an exhibit for a period of 180 days pending the outcome of investigation and inquiry by the bank .
The 180 days lapsed last week .
Some of the bank accounts holders were Bolatito Oduala , Chima Ibebunjoh, Mary Kpengwa , Saadat Bibi , Bassey Israel, Wisdom Obi , Nicholas Osazele, Ebere Idibie , Akintomide Yusuf, Uhuo Promise and Mosopefoluwa Odeseye.
The list also included Adegoke Yusuf, Umoh Ekanem , Babatunde Segun , Mulu Teghenan , Mary Oshifowora , Winifred Jacob , Victor Solomon , Idunu Williams, and Gatefield Nigeria Limited.
Falana in an interview with journalists warned the government to stop violating the rights of Nigerians .
According to him , as of today, none of his clients has been invited for questioning , interrogated or charged to court for any of the alleged offences for which their accounts were frozen .
Meanwhile, the Attorney -General of the Federation , Abubakar Malami ( SAN ) , said the Federal Government was not wrong to freeze the bank accounts of 20 # EndSARS campaigners .
“ Government is not wrong particularly in circumstances that justifies intense investigation . It is the end result of an investigation that can determine whether government is right or wrong as determine by the court on the basis of the facts presented ,” he said .
Malami , who is also the Minister of Justice , stated this on Channels Television ’ s ‘ Politics Today ’ programme monitored by The PUNCH.
Speaking hours later on the decision of the court , Malami said the decision to comply with the court order or not would not be out of intimidation , adding that the government cannot be intimidated .
He said, “ The decision to comply with the court order or not is not a decision that is a product of intimidation ; government cannot be intimidated , government cannot in anyway be compromised as far as the exercise of its constitutional powers are concerned but that does not mean the government is perpetually inconsiderate.
“ The bottom – line is that the public interest matters most in whatever decision the government arrives at as far as compliance or non -compliance with the orders or judgments of the court are concerned . Intimidation is out of it , threats are out of it , constitutionality is the bottom -line .”

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