Submitting that the Federal Government failed to fulfil certain conditions to entitle it to take claim of funds in all accounts in Nigerian Banks without Bank Verification Number, BVM, Justice Nnamdi Dimgba threw out the long bid by the government to enrich itself with other peoples’ money.
On Friday in Abuja Division of the Federal High Court where he gave the ruling, the Justice specifically maintained that the government did not comply with section 17 of the Advance Fee Fraud. He further noted that the Federal Government did not give any evidence to prove that funds in the accounts were proceeds of crime, nor did it indicate efforts it made to ensure that banks complied with interim orders of the court. “Therefore relief sought by the plaintiff cannot be granted at this stage”.
Justice Dimgba, however, advised that for the FG to succeed in obtaining final forfeiture order, it must be proved that funds in such accounts were abandoned or unclaimed, were products of unlawful activity, as well as an advert placed for anyone laying claim to such funds to come forward.
In October 20117, the court in an ex parte motion had directed the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, and 19 commercial banks in the country to disclose all accounts in their custody without BVN and amounts in them.
The court further granted an interim order directing the banks to freeze funds in such accounts by stopping “all outward payments, operations or transactions”, pending the hearing of the substantive application that was filed by the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mr. Abubakar Malami, SAN, seeking permanent forfeiture of funds in such accounts to FG.
It specifically granted “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 guidelines contrary to Section 3 of the Money Laundering Act, 2011 and CBN guidelines, pending the determination of the originating motion on notice”.