In a swift reaction to a move by 19 commercial banks challenging the order of the Federal Government directing banks to freeze all accounts without Biometric Verification Number (BVN), the Attorney General of the federation Abubakar Malami (SAN) has accused the commercial banks of working against the anti- corruption crusade of the Federal Government.
The Forfeiture Order
Recently,the court presided by Justice Nnamdi Dimgba had ordered the forfeiture of accounts without BVN in all commercial banks. The court, among others, ordered the banks to disclose the details of all such accounts, their owners and their proceeds in their affidavit of compliance deposed to by their Chief Compliance Officers. It also made an interim order directing the banks to freeze all the said accounts by stopping “all outward payments, operations or transactions” pending the hearing of the substantive application seeking the forfeiture of the balances on the accounts to the Federal Government.
The court also directed the CBN and the Nigeria Interbank Settlement Systems “to validate the information contained in the affidavit of compliance/disclosure filed by the respective 19 banks” within seven days from the date of service of the orders on them. It also, among others, ordered the banks to advertise the accounts without BVN in a widely circulated national newspaper as notice to those who might have any interest in any of the accounts.
This order was later challenged by the 19 commercial banks in a joint application and got an order setting-aside the earlier ruling. The judge also revoked the order number 5 in the ruling, which had directed an interim forfeiture of the proceeds in all the accounts without BVN pending the determination of the substantive suit.
This seems not to go down well with Mr. Malami who also accused the banks of opposing the court’s order so that they could continue to keep the funds in the accounts without BVN, trade with funds and at the end declare fat profits for their various shareholders. He also argued that while the banks are happy not to allow the customers, whose accounts are not covered by BVN, to operate the said accounts, yet they want the interim order of this court, directing them to disclose these accounts and their holders, dismissed and or struck out? This according to Mr. Malami amounts to shielding rogues. The judge has however adjourned till December 11 for hearing of all pending applications.