A Lagos based lawyer and Human Rights Activist Ebun-olu Adegboruwa, Esq., is of the opinion that it is improper for the court to order that all accounts in all banks without BVN be frozen. In stating this, he gave reasons why such order should not be grated upon customers in Nigeria, who are not directly parties to the suit.
According to the information made available to TheNigerialawyer, Mr Ebun-olu Adegboruwa, Esq received a certified true copy of the interim orders of the federal high court, coral Dimgba, J., granting various interim orders in favour of the federal government of Nigeria, against all accounts in all banks that have no BVN. The orders granted were said to have been granted at the behest of the Honorable Attorney-General of the Federation.
“Iam very well concerned about how we deploy interim orders for permanent purposes, such as to forfeit valuable assets, without any or fair hearing from the person(s) concerned. I think it is improper to obtain interim orders to freeze bank accounts of estates that are in dispute between the beneficiaries, or estates of deceased persons that are still being contested, of profits of companies that are still subject to litigation or other disputes, just to mention a few examples of the arbitrariness of these orders,” Mr Ebun-olu stated.
To him “there is nothing in section 3 of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act 2011, that makes BVN a condition precedent for operating a bank account in Nigeria. Nothing at all. What the law requires is verifiable identity of the customer, such as name, address, photographs, identity cards, etc. BVN is policy decision of the Central Bank of Nigeria and a court of law should not base its orders on executive policies that are not backed by law. I get truly worried with the way we adopt ex-parte applications to determine very serious and weighty issues of law”
He highlighted another point, which is the bindingness of an ex-parte Order upon the whole world and upon all millions of bank customers in Nigeria, who are not directly parties to the suit.
“How proper is it, for a court to seek to determine the rights of parties in their absence, in view of the clear provisions of section 36(1) of the 1999 Constitution and Article 7 of the African Charter. Why this desperation, if one may ask?
Though he is in support that money suspected to be proceeds of crime should be traced, isolated and forfeited, if the owner cannot successfully account for it. But to proceed to seek to forfeit all monies in all banks meant for all customers in Nigeria, on the ground of absence of BVN is manifestly illegal.
He therefore humbly urge the Honorable Attorney-General of the federation to review this case with a view to tempering the tenor of these rather outlandish orders.
“The quest to scoop revenue for government should not be at the detriment of the constitutional and fundamental rights of the citizens. Which is why I have been praying that these orders are not real, but rather one of the usual social media gimmicks. As it is said, take away your prosperity, take away your kindness and goodwill, but by all means just give me my rights and my freedoms,” Ebun-olu Adegboruwa said.
TheNigerialawyer recalls that Justice Nnamdi Dimgba Federal High Court on October 17, 2017, ordered the Central Bank of Nigeria and the 19 commercial banks in the country to disclose all accounts in their custody and the balances in such accounts. The court also ordered, the banks to disclose the details of all such accounts, their owners and their proceeds in their affidavit of compliance deposed to by their Chief Compliance Officers. The Court made this orders upon an ex parte motion filed on behalf of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and the Attorney General of the Federation.