Emerging report indicates that the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, has asked Justice Ahmed Mohammed of a Federal High Court in Abuja, not to unfreeze the accounts of the EndSARS promoters, because they are still under probe for terrorism financing,
The CBN said this in a counter-affidavit in opposition to a motion on notice filed by Gatefield Nigeria Limited, a company that sponsored freelance Journalists to cover the EndSARS protests in October.
The Apex Bank had through an exparte order, frozen the Bank account of Gatefield Nigeria Limited, and 19 other persons, who played a role in the protests.
However, Gatefield opposed CBN’s action in court, insisting that the act was illegal, because the Apex Bank had frozen the accounts, even before the court order to do so was obtained.
In a counter-affidavit filed by a Lawyer, A. J. Apera, on behalf of the CBN Governor, Godwin Emefiele, the Apex Bank stated that it duly obtained a court order on November 4, 2020, to freeze the accounts.
The CBN, however, made no mention of EndSARS in the court papers, but only told the court that all those whose accounts were frozen were under probe for suspected terrorism.
The affidavit read in part: “That the bank accounts frozen by this honourable court in this case, are suspected to be involved in transactions bordering on terrorism financing, and that the said accounts are being investigated by the Central Bank of Nigeria in that regard.”
The Apex Bank said that it did not need to inform the EndSARS campaigners about the freezing of their accounts, because of the nature of the investigation which is terrorism-related.
It added: “That the allegations involving the Defendants’ accounts being investigated by the Central Bank of Nigeria, border on terrorism, and that there was an extreme urgency warranting the grant of the exparte order in this suit.”
The CBN said that it has the legal right to investigate the Defendants, because it has to do with financing and funds being stored in financial institutions.
It stated that it would forward its findings to the Nigerian Financial Intelligence Unit, NFIU, for further investigation.
The affidavit further read: “That it will be in the best interest of justice that the instant application be dismissed, as the investigations being conducted by the Central Bank of Nigeria in respect of the Defendants’ frozen accounts have not been concluded.”
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