The Central Bank of Nigeria has asked Justice Ahmed Mohammed of a Federal High Court in Abuja not to order the unfreeze the accounts of #EndSARS campaigners following ongoing 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 ex parte order frozen the account of Gatefield Nigeria Limited and 19 other persons who played a role in the protests but Gatefield opposed the CBN’s action in court, saying 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 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.”
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 ex parte order in this suit.”
The apex court said it had the legal right to investigate the defendants because it had to do with financing and funds being stored in financial institutions.
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.”
The accounts have been frozen for 40 days while none of the accused has been invited for questioning.