…Wants Nigerians to Patronise other Financial Institutions …CBN Lacks Powers of an Anti-Graft Agency…Aborisade …Those Who Flout the Country’s Laws Should Account for their Actions…Presidency The Global Coalition for Security and Democracy in Nigeria, (GCSDN) and its partners have called for massive boycott of banks involved in the freezing of accounts of prominent EndSARS activists.
…Wants Nigerians to Patronise other Financial Institutions
…CBN Lacks Powers of an Anti-Graft Agency…Aborisade
…Those Who Flout the Country’s Laws Should Account for their Actions…Presidency
The Global Coalition for Security and Democracy in Nigeria, (GCSDN) and its partners have called for massive boycott of banks involved in the freezing of accounts of prominent EndSARS activists. They are already intensifying campaigns to galvanize the people to embrace other financial institutions.
The coalition says it is “calling on well-meaning Nigerians home and abroad to quickly close their bank accounts with the banks that have frozen the accounts of our compatriots who peacefully participated in the EndSARS protest.”
“If you live abroad, we sincerely appeal to you to kindly avoid sending money to your friends and relatives through the blacklisted banks. Please we must show to this government that this oppression of the Nigerian people is absolutely unacceptable. This is ‘Revolution Without Ammunition’,” the GCSDN says, in a statement by its Global Coordinator, Mr Frederick O. Odorige.
Following a court order by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), the accounts of those perceived as leaders of the EndSARS movement were ordered to be frozen at the following banks: Access Bank, Fidelity Bank, First Bank Nigeria, Guaranty Trust Bank, United Bank of Africa and Zenith Bank.
A Federal High Court in Abuja presided over by Justice Ahmed Mohammed granted the request of the CBN filed on October 20 in suit FHC/ABJ/CS/1384/2020 to freeze the accounts of 19 individuals and a company known as Gatefield Nigeria Limited for participating at the #EndSARS protests organized to end police brutality in Nigeria.
The affected activists include Bolatito Racheal Oduala, Chima David Ibebunjoh, Mary Doose Kpengwa, Saadat Temitope Bibi, Bassey Victor Israel, Wisdom Busaosowo Obi, Nicholas Ikhalea Osazele, Ebere Idibie, and Akintomide Lanre Yusuf,
Others are Uhuo Ezenwanyi Promise, Mosopefoluwa Odeseye, Adegoke Pamilerin Yusuf, Umoh Grace Ekanem, Babatunde Victor Segun, Mulu Louis Teghenan, Mary Oshifowora, Winifred Akpevweoghene Jacob, Victor Solomon and Idunu A. Williams.
The order of Justice Mohammed read as follows:
“A mandatory order is made empowering the plaintiff/applicant to direct the head office of Access Bank of Nigeria Plc, Fidelity Bank Plc, First Bank of Nigeria Plc, Guaranty Trust Bank Plc, United Bank for Africa Plc and Zenith Bank Plc to freeze forthwith all transactions on the 20 bank accounts listed for a period of 90 days pending the outcome of investigation and inquiry currently being conducted by the Central Bank of Nigeria. It is, however, directed that the 90-day freezing order, when it lapses, may be renewed upon good cause shown by the applicant. It is also directed that any person, whether artificial or natural, that is affected by this order may apply to the court to have his grievance or complaint heard by the court. The suit is adjourned till February 4, 2021.”
The group says, “We shall not complain about what government has done. We shall react appropriately. Let us quickly withdraw our monies AND CLOSE OUR ACCOUNTS with the following banks used as agents of oppression: (1) Access Bank of Nigeria Plc, (2) Fidelity Bank Plc, (3) First Bank of Nigeria Plc, (4) Guaranty Trust Bank Plc, (5) United Bank for Africa Plc and (6) Zenith Bank Plc.”
Close Our Accounts
Explaining further the rational for its campaign with the theme, “WHY WE MUST CLOSE OUR ACCOUNTS NOW,” it argues that, “These banks have the right to appeal and challenge this court order as a way of protecting their customers. Since they refused to do that and chose to cooperate with a despotic order being teleguided by a despotic military-inclined government, we equally have the right to be the Court and Judge over our deposits. Please remember to inform the banks that you are closing your account because they are cooperating with government to frustrate peaceful and law abiding #EndSARS protesters.”
“We must refuse to abandon our compatriots whose accounts were frozen. We must show to them that they are not alone. Injustice to one is injustice to all. We must refuse to be intimidated with the instruments of fear by anybody, living or dead that occupies temporary position of authority within the territory of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
“We must not allow this military-inclined government of Rtd Maj. Gen Muhammadu Buhari and his cohorts to continue treating Nigerians like dogs. He and his agents have no right to take away our fundamental human rights. The right to protest against poor governance and police/army brutality is non-negotiable. Nobody own Nigeria more than Nigerians,” the coalition maintains” the coalition says.
While restating that, “It is time to show to this military-inclined government that we refuse to be as stupid as they wish us to be,” it implores all to shift their accounts to other “commercial banks in Nigeria where we could quickly open our new bank accounts and make other financial transactions for now.” They include First City Monument Bank Limited, Union Bank of Nigeria Plc, Citibank Nigeria Limited, Ecobank Nigeria Plc, Heritage Banking Company Limited, Keystone Bank Limited and Polaris Bank Limited. (The successor to Skye Bank Plc.). Others include Stanbic IBTC Bank Plc, Standard Chartered, Sterling Bank Plc, Titan Trust Bank Limited, Unity Bank Plc, Wema Bank Plc, Globus Bank Limited, SunTrust Bank Nigeria Limited and Providus Bank Limited.
It also listed Non-interest banks in Nigeria such as:Jaiz Bank Plc and TAJBank Limited, merchant banks and micro finance banks where financial transactions can be done
The group demands that, “the government and SSS must arrest and prosecute the sitting Senator that sponsored thugs and so-called repentant terrorists to attack peaceful EndSARS protesters,” adding that the thugs burnt and looted public property in order to give the peaceful protesters a negative image.
The former Assistant Director of SSS, Mr Dennis Amachree openly confirmed on Channels TV that he got confirmation from SSS headquarters that the hired thugs that were transported as shown on viral videos, were hired by a sitting Senator of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
GCSDN also wants “the military-inclined APC government of Buhari” to “release the corpses of our compatriots killed during the Lekki toll gate massacre.”
While calling on “the regional restructuring of Nigeria now,” the group.appeals “to all vloggers and bloggers to kindly join us in publicizing this protest for the common good of all.”
Accounts Linked to Terrorism
The Federal Government was able to freeze the accounts of 20 #EndSARS campaigners after telling a Federal High Court in Abuja that the funds in their accounts might have been linked to terrorist activities.
This is according to a written address in support of a motion ex parte filed by the Central Bank of Nigeria. The CBN had in the second week of October frozen 20 accounts and thereafter approached the court to seek an ex parte order to freeze the accounts.
In the case with suit number FHC/ABJ/CS/1384/2020, filed before Justice A. R. Mohammed, the CBN, however, made no mention of the fact that the 20 accounts were owned by persons involved in the #EndSARS protests, but told the court that the funds might have emanated from terrorist activities.
The written address read in part, “My lord, the 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.”
In a supporting affidavit deposed to by one Aondowase Jacob on behalf of the CBN, it was stated that the Head of the Economic Intelligence Unit of the Governor’s Department, CBN, Joseph Omayuku, had conducted an investigation on the accounts of the defendants and other individuals and entities held with certain banks in Nigeria.
According to the affidavit, the investigation showed that the owners of the accounts may have been involved in terrorist activities.
It added, “There is a grave allegation that the defendants are involved in suspected terrorism financing via their bank accounts in contravention of the provisions of extant laws and regulations. The aforesaid transactions undertaken by the defendants, using their bank accounts, can cause significant economic and security harm to the public and the Federal Republic of Nigeria if left unchecked.
“The applicant (CBN governor) is thus desirous to have the court empower him to direct the freezing of the 20 accounts listed on the annexure to this application and all other bank accounts held by the defendants.
“A freezing order of this honourable court in respect of the defendants’ accounts would also enable the investigation of the activities of the defendants to a logical conclusion with a view to reporting same to the Nigerian Financial Intelligence Unit.”
The apex bank said unless the order was granted, it would not be able to ensure that the money remained intact, while investigations were ongoing.
The 20 accounts frozen by the CBN are domiciled in Access Bank, Guaranty Trust Bank, Fidelity Bank, United Bank for Africa and Zenith Bank. The accounts were said to have been flagged after they received money with the narration #EndSARS.
One of the frozen accounts, marked 0056412470 and domiciled in Access Bank, belongs to Bolatito Olorunrinu Oduala, an #EndSARS campaigner, who was appointed into the Lagos State judicial panel set up by Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu.
Another frozen account marked 0033974485 and domiciled in Access Bank belongs to Bassey Israel, the medical team coordinator for the #EndSARS protests in Port Harcourt.
Similarly, an account marked 0054676984 domiciled in Access Bank belongs to Gatefield Nigeria Limited, which paid freelance journalists to cover the protests.
Justice Mohammed froze the accounts for 180 days subject to renewal, but said anyone who was not satisfied with the ruling was free to challenge it.
A leading human rights Lawyer, Mr Femi Aborisade has condemned the arrest, detention and arraignment of unofficial leaders of #EndSARS protest movement, the seizure of international passports of some of them and the freezing of their accounts through ex-parte orders obtained by the CBN, as amounting to a criminalization of the exercise of the freedom to protest peacefully, which is donated by section 40 of the Constitution as a fundamental right.”
“The clampdown on the unofficial leaders of the #EndSARS movement shows that the Federal Government has concluded they are criminals in spite of the impression given that the various Panels of Inquiry set up at the state levels are to provide appropriate remedies for those who have suffered abuse of rights in the hands of security agencies.
“The #EndSARS protesters are not slaves who have no rights; they are citizens who are entitled to the right of peaceful protest, which is also universally recognized in international instruments, particularly the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights, which has been domesticated as an enactment of the National Assembly pursuant to constitutional provisions,” he said..
Warning that, “Ordinary Nigerians did not resist military dictatorship to have a so-called civil rule, which treats ordinary people as conquered people deprived of rights,” he posits that, .”There is no crime known to law in the protesters making contributions to finance peaceful protests.”
Explaining further, Aborisade says, “Assuming without conceding that an offence was committed by those who contributed resources to support the #EndSARS protest movement, the CBN lacks the power under the law to act as an anti-graft agency. The ex-parte order obtained by the CBN is therefore a feature of unending impunity and an abuse of the judicial system. Travelling abroad is an element of the constitutionally recognized fundamental right of freedom of movement guaranteed under section 41 of the Constitution.”
“Peaceful protest is universally recognized as a form of civil disobedience, permitted under the law. Civil disobedience is no insurrection and no one ought to suffer any disadvantage or repressed on account of participation in any act of civil disobedience.
EndSARS Committed No Offence
“The #EndSARS protesters have committed no offence known to law. In Chief of Defence Staff & Anor v. TIJAH (2016) LPELR-40818 (CA), the Court of Appeal held that civil disobedience should not be equated to mean mob violence, riot, insurrection and offences growing out of mob violence, no matter how numerous the participants.
“From the treatment being meted out to the leading members of the #EndSARS protest movement, it is clear that the Federal Government of Nigeria has criminalized and miscategorized peaceful protesters as insurrectionists, contrary to the law of the land,” Aborisade, also a labour activist insists.
He called on organized labour to condemn and take practical action to resist the clamp down on the #EndSARS protesters. “If we allow the clampdown on the young #EndSARS protesters without challenge, it would be used as a precedent to be applied to the labour movement in the future.”
Aborisade also called on young people in #EndSARS protest movement to canvass and unite with young workers in the trade union movement and “turn #EndSARS protests to #End Clampdown on EndSARS protesters, #Reverse Increases in electricity tariff and #Reverse Increases in fuel prices, among other wider social issues disturbing the living and working conditions of the workers.”
Govt Behaving Like Terrorist
Speaking in the same vein, a leading member of the #EndSARS protesters, Ms Aisha Yesufu, described the freezing of the #EndSARS protesters’ accounts as illegal, noting that the government “is behaving like a terrorist.”
She questioned the freezing of the accounts ahead of the court injunction ordering the banks to block the accounts.
Yesufu stated, “The question is, why did they freeze the accounts before obtaining a court injunction? Why the illegality? Our judiciary should know that it is an independent arm of government and there is separation of power.
“The government should be ashamed of itself. The United Arab Emirates just convicted some Nigerians, who were accused of terrorism, and we are hearing that the government would appeal on their behalf. That is where the problem is.”
The activist accused the Federal Government of pampering insurgents, while bearing down on peaceful and harmless protesters.
She added, “#EndSARS campaigners are protesters and they protested the way the Constitution allows, so all these are shenanigans. They had better focus on the terrorists.
“Bandits are laying down their arms and they are taking them to Government Houses, while Boko Haram members are being given preferential treatment, but Nigerians, who were protesting, were being killed by the government. The government is the one behaving like a terrorist right now.”
However the Presidency says those who allowed the EndSARS protests to degenerate into looting of public and private properties should be prepared to account for their actions.
Speaking on Sunday on Channels Television’s programme, Sunday Politics, Mr Garba Shehu, senior special assistant to the President, said the protesters must face the law.
Bucks Stops on Buhari’s Table
“This country has only one President and has only one Constitution. President Muhammadu Buhari is responsible for his government. The buck stops on his table.
“We are a country governed by law. There is a Constitution —under section 33— that clearly defines the rights of citizens to freely protest in a peaceful way but where a peaceful protest turns into riot, violence and looting, there is a law and order duty to be performed.
“Everyone is a witness to the massive looting of public and private properties particularly in Lagos, Calabar, Plateau, Taraba and some other states, even the FCT.
“Now, the laws of the country must be allowed to decide, to rule on wrongdoing on the part of just anybody. I am not particular about any celebrity or promoter but this country has been harmed enormously and people should be prepared to account for what they did.”
He also called on the major opposition party to come out publicly to denounce the lootings.
“And I think it will be of interest to 200 million Nigerians if some of those leading politicians who had promoted the EndSARS to the time when it was seized and taken over by looters to come out with the same force as they did support to also denounce the degeneracy that set in place; some of them have said nothing so far.
“But this country has to be saved from looters and the interest of the country is above politics, PDP should come out and denounce these things,” he said.