Court Fixes March 1 for Hearing in Interim Forfeiture Order of Monies Not Linked to BVN

Judtice Nnamdi Dimgba of a Federal High Court Abuja, Tuesday, fixed March 1 for hearing a suit challengeing the forfeiture order the Federal Government obtained from a Federal High, Abuja, to take over monies in some banks not linked to BVN.
Access Bank and 19 others on behalf of the depositors affected by the order are challenging the forfeiture order.
When the case came up on Tuesday, the lead counsel to the Federal Government, Ade Okeaya-Inneh (SAN) told the court that he and his team just took over the casefile and needed time to study it.
Counsel to Access Bank and others, led by Paul Usoro (SAN) did not raise any objection. Consequently, Justice Dimgba, adjourned the matter till March 1, 2018, for hearing.
Justice Dimgba on October 17, 2017, granted all the nine reliefs sought by the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, on behalf of the Federal Government including an interim forfeiture of all monies not linked to BVN.
The court ordered all the 19 deposit money banks, DMBs, operating in the country to release to Nigerian government names of accounts not yet connected to BVN; account numbers; their outstanding balances; domiciling locations; and domiciliary accounts without BVN and where they are domiciled.
Nigeria deposit money banks that were listed as respondents in the ex-parte suit are: Access Bank, Citi Bank, Diamond Bank, Ecobank, Fidelity Bank, First Bank and First City Monument Bank.
Others are: Guarantee Trust Bank, Heritage Bank, Keystone Bank, Skye Bank, Stanbic IBTC Bank, Standard Chartered Bank, Sterling Bank, Union Bank and United Bank for Africa
The remaining three are: Unity Bank, Bank Wema Bank and Zenith Bank.
The court also ordered all of them to disclose any investments made with funds and to withhold authorisation for any outward inflow of funds from the accounts. All the details are to be submitted to Nigeria Inter-Bank Settlement System, NIBSS, and the CBN for authentication.
The banks were also directed to publish all bank accounts not linked to BVN in national newspapers with a 14-day notice for individuals with interest in such accounts to come forward and justify why their funds should not be forfeited to the Nigerian government.
Justice Dimgba also ordered the CBN, which was joined as 20th respondent alongside the 19 DMBs, to appoint an official who will examine all the details submitted to the apex bank for compliance.
The government argued the matter under Section 3 of the Money Laundering Act, 2011.
The section said banks must “ensure that documents, data or information collected under the customer due diligence process is kept up-to-date and relevant by undertaking reviews of existing records, particularly for higher risk categories of customers or business relationships.”
The BVN is a unique identification number that can be verified and used to transact business across all the banking platforms in Nigeria.
The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) imposed the policy to capture customers’ data for financial transactions and check fraud in the banking system.
Registration for BVNs commenced on February 14, 2014, across the country. The CBN said over 20.8 million customers enrolled 40 million bank accounts before the October 31, 2015, final deadline for customers residing within the country.
The CBN extended the deadline for Nigerians in the diaspora to December 2016 to sign up for the BVN system. But hundreds of thousands home and abroad are still believed to be left behind.

Author: News Editor

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