Access Bank on Wednesday, November 11, revealed Governor Godwin Emefiele did not follow extant regulatory procedures before ordering indiscriminate freezing of bank accounts linked to champions of Nigeria’s historic #EndSARS campaign.
1st News had reported the CBN Governor obtained a one-sided order to freeze accounts linked to #EndSARS protesters.
Specifically, the order was obtained from the Abuja Division of the Federal High Court on November 4.
In a twist to the ongoing development, a letter from Access Bank to Gatefield Limited; a media rights think-tank that owns one of the affected accounts; confirmed a CBN freeze directive on October 26.
This was more than a week before an ex-parte order was granted by Justice Ahmed Mohammed.
Emefiele’s lawyers had filed the controversial ex-parte motion to freeze the accounts on October 20.
However, it took more than two weeks to convince a federal judge to sign it. But Emefiele proceeded, nonetheless, to commence enforcement in the intervening period.
Some #EndSARS protesters had complained of interference with their bank accounts since at least October 13; less than a week after the protests began on October 8.
Both CBN and Flutterwave denied claims of interference at the time.
In line with the mandate from the CBN, Access Bank froze all transactions from Gatefield’s account, the letter showed, barely days after the organisation announced grants to support journalists covering #EndSARS activities..
Gatefield CEO Adewunmi Emoruwa says the media rights group; which raised funds to support journalists covering the #EndSARS campaign, has commenced legal proceedings against Access Bank for illicitly imposing restrictions on its account.
“We feel vindicated by the November 5th court order obtained by the Central Bank of Nigeria to restrict our journalism fund account,” Emoruwa said in a statement.
“Access Bank informed us in writing in October; that their decision to restrict our account was based on an order of the Central Bank of Nigeria.”
“This development proves that Access Bank acted illegally in complying with the alleged directive without any prior court order.
“This shows a roguish disregard for the due process enshrined in the Nigerian law; regulating banking and financial institutions. We have gone ahead to challenge Access Bank in court and we are convinced that we will obtain justice,’’ Emoruwa said.