The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has prayed the Federal High Court not to reverse its order freezing the accounts of 20 #EndSARS campaigners, stating that the accounts were still being probed for suspected terrorism financing.
CBN’s stance was conveyed in a counter-affidavit filed against a motion on notice filed by Gatefield Nigeria Limited.
Recall that the CBN had obtained an ex parte order to freeze the accounts until January 2021, without telling Justice Ahmed Mohammed that they belonged to #EndSARS campaigners.
Gatefield, which sponsored freelance reporters to cover October’s #EndSARS protests, was one of the 20 victims.
In an affidavit filed in support of its motion on notice, the company argued that the action was illegality because the apex bank froze the accounts prior to obtaining the court order.
However, in a counter-affidavit filed by a lawyer, A.J. Apera, on behalf of the CBN Governor, Godwin Emefiele, the bank argued that it obtained a court order on November 4, 2020, to freeze the accounts.
“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 affidavit read in part.
The apex bank further argued that the nature of the investigation made it unnecessary to inform the #EndSARS campaigners about the freezing of their accounts.
Maintaining that it had the right to investigate the entities because the matter related to financing and funds being stored in financial institutions, CBN said it would forward its findings to the Nigerian Financial Intelligence Unit for further investigation.
The apex court noted that it would be in the best interest of justice that Gatefield’s application is 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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