Human rights lawyer, Femi Falana (SAN), says the Central Bank of Nigeria cannot appeal the court judgment unfreezing the bank account of 20 #EndSARS campaigners.
Falana, who spoke on Thursday, said his clients would drag the Federal Government and the CBN to court for trampling on their rights by unlawfully freezing their accounts last October out of “sheer intimidation”.
The senior advocate also said the apex bank must desist from jumping into the political terrain and mind its sole business of banking.
Following the destruction that trailed the #EndSARS protests last October, the CBN obtained a court order to freeze the accounts of 20 #EndSARS promoters.
However, a Federal High Court in Abuja on Wednesday ordered the CBN to unfreeze the accounts of 20 #EndSARS campaigners.
Speaking on the matter on Thursday, Falana said the apex bank failed to conduct any investigation into the allegation of terrorism and money laundering levelled against the #EndSARS campaigners in the first instance.
The human rights lawyer spoke on Channels Television’s ‘Sunrise Daily’ programme
He said, “In October last year, the Central Bank of Nigeria went out of his way to obtain an ex parte to freeze the accounts of 20 #EndSARS protesters. The Central Bank asked to investigate the 20 people for alleged money laundering, terrorism and sundry offences. Instead of 180 days, the court gave the CBN 90 days to commence and conclude investigation into the accounts of the activities of these young men and women.
“For the 90 days, throughout the duration of the order, there was no investigation at all because no offence was committed. These young men were expressing their rights to freedom of expression guaranteed by Section 39 of the Constitution and freedom of assembly guaranteed by Section 40. So, it was a case of sheer intimidation.
“By last week, February 4, the order expired and we were in the court yesterday (Wednesday). Of course, the Central Bank had attempted to renew the order but you cannot renew an expired order. If you wanted to renew, you should have renewed when the order was valid and subsisting. So, the court decided to strike out the case yesterday because both sides withdrew all applications.
“So, the creation of filing an appeal does not arise because the order had expired. The government cannot file any appeal because the government had withdrawn all the application files.
“I do hope sufficient lessons have been learnt particularly by the Central Bank to desist from jumping into the political arena by attempting to freeze the accounts of people who are involved in a struggle because when a Central Bank does that, you have left the business of banking and then strayed into the political terrain and it is a dangerous terrain.”