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#EndSARS protesters involved in terrorism, CBN tells Federal High Court

Bank accounts of 20 #EndSARS champions were frozen after the Central Bank filed false allegations of terrorism to convince a federal judge in Abuja.

• November 11, 2020
CBN Godwin Emefiele (credit: Bloomberg)
CBN Governor, Godwin Emefiele (credit: Bloomberg)

The Central Bank of Nigeria appeared to have filed false claims to convince a federal judge to block bank accounts of #EndSARS protesters last month, Punch reported on Thursday.

The bank approached Justice Ahmed Mohammed of the Abuja Division of the Federal High Court was told that 20 bank accounts used to conduct #EndSARS transactions were linked to terrorism, Punch reported citing court filings.

“Tthe 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,” Punch cited excerpts of the bank charges.

But it seemed like the CBN did not present any evidence to the court other than the claim that the accounts made transfers that carried #EndSARS in line descriptions.

The report came days after Peoples Gazette uncovered the lawsuit itself and the order granted by Mr. Mohammed, which was argued on behalf of CBN by former attorney-general Michael Aondoakaa. 

It is a federal crime to file false charges in the manner CBN appeared to have done against citizens involved in the historic #EndSARS campaign, although it was unclear how the judge would react when the matter comes up again. 

The ex-parte order blocking the bank accounts was granted for an initial 90 days, but those affected have already filed separate charges to revoke it. Ex-parte orders are temporary reliefs to a party that initiated a lawsuit, often before defendants are even served court papers.

Gatefield Limited, a media rights group which raised funds to support journalists covering the protests, was the only organisation targeted in the CBN freeze.

Gatefield CEO Adewunmi Emoruwa quickly contested the restrictions on the organisation’s account as illegal and directed lawyers to seek their invalidation before a federal judge. 

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