The Federal Government and the Attorney General of the Federation, Mr. Abubakar Malami (SAN), have accused the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), and 19 commercial banks in Nigeria of working in a way that derails the government’s anti-corruption war.
They are accusing the CBN and 19 banks of allegedly exhibiting attributes that oppose their effort to ensure strict implementation of the Bank Verification Number (BVN) policy.
In October, Justice Nnamdi Dimgba of the Federal High Court in Abuja had granted a request by Malami, for a temporary forfeiture of all funds held in bank accounts not linked to BVNs and those whose ownership could not be completely identified.
Rather than comply with the court order as it relates to them, the banks filed a notice of objection, querying the competence of the suit, the October 17 orders by the court and the court’s jurisdiction to hear and determine the suit.
However, the Federal Government and the AGF are claiming that the banks’ opposition to the suit they filed over the implementation of the BVN policy confirmed their suspicion that the banks were allegedly benefiting illegally from the haphazard implementation of the policy and the bar placed on customers without BVN since the deadline ended about two years ago.
The government and the minister made the allegations in their response to the application filed by the banks challenging the jurisdiction of the court to make the freezing order.
The government stated in its response to the banks’ application that the banks also refused to comply with the court order directing them to disclose the accounts in their custody without BVN.
A counter-affidavit deposed to by Usman Dakas, on behalf of the Federal Government and the AGF, stated, “The applicants (the banks) do not wish to comply with the interim order of this court and disclose the accounts without BVN and their holders in order to frustrate the plaintiffs’ anti-corruption policies that would benefit the entire nation.”
They stressed in their written address that the banks’ motive for electing to challenge the competence of the suit rather than comply with the order for them to produce information on the accounts without BVN, was ploy to frustrate the government’s anti-corruption war.
The plaintiffs said: “The applicants have filed this motion to frustrate the plaintiff’s constitutional responsibility to ‘abolish corrupt practices’ and the clear directives and regulations of the CBN on the BVN scheme so that they can continue to keep the funds in the accounts without BVN and be trading with them and declaring fat profits for their various shareholders.
“Is it not worrisome that while the banks are happy not to allow the customers, whose accounts are not covered by BVN, to operate the said accounts, yet they want the interim order of this court, directing them to disclose these accounts and their holders, dismissed and or struck out?”
After much deliberation, Justice Dimga, during the last proceedings on November 15 modified its orders made on October 17.
The judge then adjourned until December 11 for the hearing of all pending applications.