Court modifies orders freezing accounts without BVN

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A Federal High Court in Abuja Wednesday modified the order it made on October 17 this year for interim freezing of bank accounts who owners have not registered for the Bank Verification Number (BVN)

The court, which had stayed further operation of such accounts pending the determination of a case pending before it, has now said the accounts could be operated once the owner registers for BVN.

Justice Nnamdi Dimgba announced the modification Wednesday after parties in the case agreed that as presently couched, the order creates an awkward and unfortunate result such that even when account owners have got their BVN, they still will not be able to operate the accounts because doing so will be in violation of the order of court.

Parties in the case also agreed that the said Relief No 4 should be revised to eliminate this problem, in the interim.

In a ruling, Justice Dimgba said: “Having listened to all counsel on record, and with the consent of all parties represented, I hereby revise Relief No 4 of the court’s order of 17/10/17 such that the new Relief No 4 shall be:

“AN INTERIM ORDER of the Honourable Court stopping all outward payments, operations or outward transactions (including any bill of exchange) in respect of the accounts pending the linking of the accounts to a Bank Verification Number”.

In view of the above agreed compromise revision of Relief No 4, I also hereby revoke and set aside Relief No 5 of the Court’s Order of 17/10/17, which provides for:

“AN INTERIM ORDER of forfeiture of the monies in the said accounts without BVN to the Claimants/Applicants being accounts with insufficient Know Your Customer (KYC) guidelines contrary to Section 3 of the Money Laundering Act, 2011 and CBN guidelines the determination of the Originating Motion on Notice,” the judge said.

As as yesterday, none of the 19 commercial banks listed as defendants in the suit complied with the court’s order that they provide information about accounts without BVN in their custody.

They only filed a motion challenging the court’s jurisdiction.

Earlier in the proceedings, lawyer to 18 of the 20 banks listed as defendants in the suit, A. A. Adegbonmire (SAN) said his clients have filed an application, challenging the court’s jurisdiction to have made the order of October 17.

He said the plaintiffs served him with their response yesterday, which he needed time to react to.

Adegbonmire urged the court for an adjournment, which was not objected to by Joseph Tobi (for the plaintiffs).

The judge consequently adjourned further proceedings to December 11.

The Federal Government and the Attorney General of the Federation had filed the suit, querying among others, the continuous retention of accounts without BVN by banks.

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