A member of the Lagos panel on dissolved Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) brutality and 15 members of the EndSARS protests have approached the court to reverse restriction placed on their accounts by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).
The panel member, Bolatito ‘Rinu’ Oduala, and the 15 others accounts argued that CBN action was illegal and the apex bank governor, Godwin Emefiele, froze the accounts before approaching the court much later for approval.
Oduala and the others were among 20 EndSARS protesters CBN froze their accounts through an ex-parte order obtained from Justice Ahmed Mohammed to back its action which claimed that campaigners may have received their funding through acts of terrorism and asked the judge to swiftly freeze the accounts.
Others were Chima Ibebunjoh, Mary Kpengwa, Saadat Bibi, Bassey Israel, Wisdom Obi, Nicholas Osazele, Ebere Idibie, Akintomide Yusuf, Uhuo Promise, Mosopefoluwa Odeseye, Adegoke Pamilerin, Umoh Ekanem, Babatunde Segun, Mary Oshifowora, and Idunnu Williams.
Meanwhile, the 16 applicants argued that the court order permitting Emefiele to freeze their accounts for 90 days was a violation of their right to fair hearing under Section 36 of the 1999 Constitution and Article 7 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights (Ratification and Enforcement) Act, Laws of the Federation, 2004.
The #EndSARS campaigners argued that Justice Mohammed’s 90-day freezing order violated Order 26 Rules 5, 10, and 11(1) and (2) of the Federal High Court Civil Procedure Rules, 2019, which prescribes a maximum of 14 days for the validity of an ex parte order.
Aside from that, the protesters faulted CBN for labelled them as terrorist and that the apex bank was neither one of the investigating nor prosecuting agencies recognised under the Terrorism Prevention Act, 2011 and the Terrorism Prevention (Amendment) Act, 2013.
Marshal Abubakar, who deposed to an affidavit filed in support of the suit, said the claimants’ accounts were frozen in October by CBN without any justification as the bank provided no evidence to back its terrorism claim.
He added that all the persons whose accounts were frozen had never been arrested for any crime before, adding that they were only protesters whose right to protest was recently reiterated by President Muhammadu Buhari.