Emefiele broke the law to freeze accounts of #EndSARS protesters, letter from bank confirms
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GODWIN Emefiele, the Governor of Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) violated extant regulatory procedure when he ordered 20 bank accounts owned by #EndSARS campaigners be frozen without obtaining a court order, a letter by Access Bank has confirmed.
According to reports, in the letter from Access Bank to Gatefield Limited, which had his account frozen alongside 19 other #EndSARS campaigners, it was confirmed that CBN directed the suspension of the accounts on October 26, a week before the apex bank got an ex-parte order to do so from a Federal High Court in Abuja, presided by Justice Ahmed Mohammed.
Gatefield Limited, a media rights organizations had raised funds to support journalists reporting the happenings of the #EndSARS protests that carried on for 12 consecutive days.
In defending its apparent clampdown on #EndSARS protesters, CBN in its written address to the court accused the protesters of financing terrorism, alleging that the transactions in the frozen accounts can cause ‘economic and security harm’.
There is no provision in the law that allows for any bank to effect a post-no-debit order on any customer’s account without a court order. In a 2019 case between Guaranty Trust Bank (GTB) and a customer identified as Akinsiku Adedamola, the Court of Appeal held that: “Before freezing customer’s account or placing any form of restrain on any Bank account, a bank must be satisfied that there is an order of court.
The court further stated that: “Our financial institutions must not be complacent, reticent and toothless in the face of brazen and reckless violence to the rights of their customers. Whenever there is a specific provision regulating the procedure of doing a particular act, that procedure must be followed.”
Emefiele simply didn’t follow the provisions of the law and also concealed the fact that the 20 frozen bank accounts were owned by persons involved in the #EndSARS protests from the court.
There have been several attempts by the Federal Government to clamp down on frontline #EndSARS protesters over the past week, following the shooting of peaceful protesters by officers of the Nigerian Army at Lekki Toll Gate Plaza on October 20.
Modupe Odele, one of the lawyers who organised legal aid for the protesters had her international passport seized by the Nigerian Immigration Service (NIS) while she tried leaving the country for the Maldives.
There have also been calls by the government for social media regulation. Leading the call is Lai Mohammed, Minister of Information and Culture who on Tuesday, October 27, used the #EndSARS protests as justification to make yet another push for social media regulation in the country.