The Case with suit no: FHC/ABJ/CS/911/2017 between Federal Republic of Nigeria & the Attorney General of the Federation & Minister of Justice v. Access Bank PLC and 19 ors seem to have taken a new dimension after counsel for the 1st – 18th defendants entered a conditional appearance on behalf of the 1st – 18th defendants.

The Processes included a Motion on Notice dated the 7th day of November, 2017 which was brought pursuant to Order 26 Rule 11 and Order 29 Rule 1 of the Federal high Court (Civil Procedure) Rules 2009 and under the Inherent Jurisdiction of the Court seeking for an order dismissing and or striking out the suit in its entirety on grounds inter alia that the court is without jurisdiction to entertain and adjudicate upon the matter howsoever and that the suit, as constituted, discloses no cause or reasonable cause of action; an order setting aside and or/ or discharging in its entirety the interim orders that were granted ex parte by the honourable court on the 17th of October 2017 in the suit on the ground inter alia that the honourable court lacked the jurisdiction.

There were several grounds upon which the application was brought. One of which reads:  In seeking the reliefs in the suit which include the forfeiture of the monies in bank accounts that do not have Bank Verification Numbers, the plaintiffs purport to rely and base their cause of action in Section 17 of the Advance Fee fraud and other Related offences Act, CAP A6, LFN 2004 which stipulates that where any property has come into the possession of any officer of the commission as unclaimed property or any unclaimed property is found by any officer of the commission to be in the possession of any other person, body corporate or financial institution or any property in the possession of any person, body corporate or financial institution is reasonably suspected to be proceeds of some unlawful activity under this Act, the Money Laundering Act of 2004, the EFCC Act of 2004 or any other Law enforceable under the EFCC Act of 2004, the High Court shall upon application made by the Commission, its officers, or any other person authorized by it upon being reasonably satisfied that such property is un unclaimed property or proceeds of unlawful activity under the Acts stated in the subsection make an order that the property or the proceeds from the sale of such property be forfeited to the Federal Government of Nigeria”.

The application further states in another ground that the Commission was established as a corporate body with the capacity to sue and be sued, and yet the said action was not instituted by the commission, its officers or any other person authorized by it in terms of S. 17 (1) of the AFFA. Also that the Money Laundering Act upon which the plaintiff’s cause of action was based does not mandate BVN as it does not make mention of such in any of its sections.

The 1st – 18th defendants therefore among other things argued that the plaintiffs have not the locus standi to bring the action before the court owing to the fact that the same is never the Economy and Financial Crime Commission which is the commission as stated in the Act. The said defendants also challenged the jurisdiction of the court to hear the matter.  The application was supported with a 12 paragraphs affidavit deposed to by one Modestus Alozie, and a written address. The cause was to be transferred from the general cause list to the hearing paper for Wednesday, 15th November, 2017.

The Nigerialawyer recalls that The Federal Republic of Nigeria and the Attorney General of the Federation as plaintiffs/respondents filed an action against Access bank plc and 19 ors in a case with suit no: FHC/AB  J/CS/911/2017 headed in the matter of an application seeking for an interim order directing all the money deposit banks (commercial banks) to disclose/declare all individuals & corporate accounts in their custody not covered by bank verification numbers & for an interim order of forfeiture of the monies therein being accounts with insufficient know your customer (KYC) guidelines contrary to the directives of the CBN & section 3 of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) acts, 2011 (as amended).

TheNigerialawyer also recalls that the Plaintiffs obtained, among other orders, the order of the Honourable Court freezing all accounts with the 1st–19th Defendants which are without Bank Verification numbers by stopping all outward payments, operations or transactions (including any bill of exchange) in respect of the accounts pending the hearing and determination of the substantive application and the plans of the Plaintiffs to obtain, from the court and in this suit, an order of permanent forfeiture of all deposits in all accounts with the 1st– 19th Defendants without Bank Verification Numbers.

TheNigerialawyer also recalls that THE INCORPORATED TRUSTEES OF TOTAL SUPPORT FOR RULE OF LAW & JUSTICE INITIATIVE had filed an application to be joined as a party to the already pending suit.

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