According to the document, government first categorised those whose accounts had been frozen as sponsors of terrorism in the country, claiming that the funds at their disposal was to further execute acts of terror in Nigeria.
Government went ahead to get the permission of the Federal High Court in Abuja to freeze the bank accounts of the affected persons.
A written address in support of a motion ex parte was filed by the Central Bank of Nigeria before Justice A. R. Mohammed.
Recall that for 13 days, Nigerians across the country poured out to the streets to protest against police brutality.
The protests resulted in the disbandment of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad unit of the police.
Many of the campaigners for the demonstrations raised funds to bankroll sustenance, medical emergencies, and legal aid for the protesters.
But the CBN has now frozen the accounts of 20 such persons by securing the dubious court order.
Some of the affected individuals include Bolatito Racheal Oduala, Chima David Ibebunjoh, Mary Doose Kpengwa, Gatefield Nigeria Limited, Saadat Temitope Bibi, Bassey Victor Israel, Wisdom Busaosowo Obi, Nicholas Ikhalea Osazele, Ebere Idibie, Akintomide Lanre Yusuf, Uhuo Ezenwanyi Promise, Mosopefoluwa Odeseye and Adegoke Pamilerin Emmanuel.
Others are Umoh Grace Ekanem, Babatunde Victor Segun, Mulu Louis Teghenan, Mary Oshifowora, Winifred Akpevweoghene Jacob, Victor Solomon and Idunu A. Williams.
In the case with suit number FHC/ABJ/CS/1384/2020, filed before Justice A. R. Mohammed, the CBN lied that the funds might have emanated from terrorist activities.
The apex bank noted that this was in contravention of the nation’s extant laws and regulations.
It argued that the transactions can cause significant economic and security harm to the country if left unchecked.
The written address read in part, “My lord, the nature of the transactions undertaken through the defendants’ accounts are of suspected terrorism financing in contravention of Section 13(1)(a)and(b) of the Terrorism (Prevention)(Amendment) Act, 2013 and Regulation 31(2)(a)and (3)(b) of the Central Bank of Nigeria Anti-Money Laundering/Combating the Financing of Terrorism Regulations, 2013.”
In a supporting affidavit deposed to by one Aondowase Jacob on behalf of the CBN, it was stated that the Head of the Economic Intelligence Unit of the Governor’s Department, CBN, Joseph Omayuku, had conducted an investigation on the accounts of the defendants and other individuals and entities held with certain banks in Nigeria.
“There is a grave allegation that the defendants are involved in suspected terrorism financing via their bank accounts in contravention of the provisions of extant laws and regulations. The aforesaid transactions undertaken by the defendants, using their bank accounts, can cause significant economic and security harm to the public and the Federal Republic of Nigeria if left unchecked.
“The applicant (CBN governor) is thus desirous to have the court empower him to direct the freezing of the 20 accounts listed on the annexure to this application and all other bank accounts held by the defendants.
“A freezing order of this honourable court in respect of the defendants’ accounts would also enable the investigation of the activities of the defendants to a logical conclusion with a view to reporting same to the Nigerian Financial Intelligence Unit.”
The apex bank said unless the order was granted, it would not be able to ensure that the money remained intact while investigations were ongoing.