Speaking through his Twitter account @DrCOmole used a case scenario to explain. He labeled the incident as a small revolution that happened in a court in Lagos State last month. He posted: a small revolution took place last month in a Lagos court that many may not have noticed. It is normal practice for security agencies in Nigeria to act beyond their powers as experienced by folks on a daily basis.
Reports of bank accounts being frozen by the EFCC is a regular occurrence all over Nigeria. But a court has now reaffirmed the position of the law on this practice. The conclusion of the court was that EFCC HAS NO POWER TO ORDER A BANK ACCOUNT TO BE FROZEN.THEY MUST OBTAIN A COURT ORDER TO DO SO. Without a court order, any bank that act based on EFCC request is acting unlawfully and will be held legally liable.
In suit number LD/ADR/800/17 filed by Mr Odutola against three banks (two of which settled out of court, leaving only Diamond Bank who refused to settle); the claimant sued for damages and the court awarded N25 Million against the bank as compensation to the claimant. The court held that the bank had acted negligently by not insisting on and sighting a court order (authorising the act) before freezing Mr Odutola’s account.
It is not in the power of the EFCC to authorise a PND on any customer’s account. The EFCC must not usurp the powers of a court of law. The duty of care owed the claimant by the second defendant (Diamond Bank) is nothing but breached.”
The learned Judge of Ikeja High Court conclude that ours "is a society whose affairs are supposed to be governed and conducted in accordance with the law. The EFCC and the bank taking law into their hands is nothing but shameful."
This is now a warning to ALL banks in Nigeria; freeze an account without a court order and you will face the music. Our judges are finally starting to curtain the excesses of our Institutions, one case at a time. It is not uncommon for EFCC to freeze accounts for months or years while “Investigating” alleged crimes. These investigation supposed to have taken place discreetly first; but as normal in Nigeria; it is Arrest first and then investigation after.
A court order allow for independent check & balance on EFCC’s powers to ensure they are not abused or used unjustly. Unless this verdict is successfully appealed; it is now law that Banks must see a valid court order before freezing a customer’s account. Maybe some sanity at last.
He returned some hours after the thread to clarify that EFCC does have power in an emergency situation to put a stop on an account for specified number of hours to allow a court order to be obtained. It does not have unilateral power to freeze an account in perpetuity or beyond to initial hours.
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