Court empowers CBN to freeze five accounts with 1st Bank, UBA for undermining Forex policy

A Federal High Court, has permitted Nigeria’s apex bank, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to freeze five accounts, domiciled First Bank of Nigeria Plc and United Bank of Africa (UBA), for allegedly undermining CBN’s policy on foreign exchange market.

Four of the accounts were allegedly housed by First Bank of Nigeria Plc, while UBA Plc housed only one, belonging to Raufu Folashade, Yusufu Ali, Ali Yusufu and Ali Yusufu, with account numbers; 
203099182; 100044036; 3099129636;
 2029112256; 2096423659, with BV Numbers; 22312630393 and 22203138106, respectively.

CBN was given the go ahead order by Justice Sule Hassan, who presided over the court, after listening to Mrs. Ibunkun Oyinloye, a lawyer from the CBN, who argued the ex-parte application filed before the court on Monday.

Mrs. Oyinloye, who held the brief of Mr.    Adekola Mustapha, by the CBN Governor, Godwin Emefiele, told the court that the freezing orders sought, is for 180 days, to enable CBN conclude investigations on the respondents’ accounts.

She also told the court that the alleged illegal activities of the dealers had continually undermined the apex bank’s “efforts to maintain a stable foreign exchange regime, which causes significant economic and financial instability to the Nigerian economy”,

The CBN’s lawyer, told Justice Hassan that there was an urgent need to freeze the five bank accounts because “there is a strong probability that the respondents may tamper with the funds currently in their various bank accounts, which are strongly connected to or being strongly suspected to be proceeds of the serious infractions of the foreign exchange market regulations”.

CBN in a six paragraph-affidavit in support of the ex parte application, deposed to by Afolabi Oyeledun, a litigation manager in Messr Adekola Mustapha and Co., stated that a preliminary investigation revealed that the respondents applied the foreign exchange obtained from the CBN, through their various bank accounts, to fund transactions in some prohibited items, leading to serious infractions and violation of the CBN circular, TED/FEM/GEN/01/010 of June 23, 2015”

The deponent stated that the activities of the respondents which are now under investigation, constitute serious risk to the financial stability of the foreign exchange market and the economy at large.

He stated that there is a very strong probability that the Respondents may tamper with the funds currently in their various bank accounts which are strongly connected to or being strongly suspected to be proceeds of the serious infractions of the foreign exchange market regulations 

The deponent also averred that unless an interim order is granted In favour of the CBN to direct the Head offices at the First Bank Plc and UBA Plc to freeze these accounts thereby presenting the various accounts balances pending outcome of the investigation by the CBN; the defendants will tamper with the funds In the various accounts to frustrate the apex bank’s investigation 

He stated that it will be in the interest of justice, safety at the economy and public policy that thus application is granted by the Honourable Court 

Justice Hassan, while conceded to the CBN’s requests, adjourned the matter till 
September 22, 2020, for report on investigation.

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