THE NEWSGHOST, NIGERIA – Nigerian government has requested a legal order directing all deposit money banks (DMBs) in Nigeria to give government a list of bank accounts not yet associated to Bank Verification Number (BVN), according to latest report.
This request was accompanied with a request for temporary forfeiture of all funds in bank accounts unlinked to BVN and whose owners cannot be identified, among other requests.
On Tuesday, October 17, 2017, the Federal High Court in Abuja granted all nine reliefs requested in a motion of notice filed on Thursday, September 28, 2017, on behalf of Nigerian government by Abubakar Malami, Nigeria’s attorney general.
The court ordered DMBs to release bank account names, numbers, outstanding balances and domiciling locations.
The banks are also required to publish all of such account in a national newspaper with a 14-day notice for individuals holding or having interest in such accounts to step out and argue why the funds should not be forfeited to Nigerian government.
Nigerian government is backing its move with Section 3 of the Money Laundering Act, 2011. This section of the act insists that banks must ‘ensure that documents, data or information collected under the customer due diligence process is kept up-to-date and relevant by undertaking reviews of existing records, particularly for higher risk categories of customers or business relationships.’
Ugodre Obi-Chukwu, a Lagos-based financial analyst told journalist that, ‘There’s no basis for this desperate move by the federal government because customers who owned the funds met the required criteria at the time they set up their bank accounts.’ He concludes that, ‘This is an attempt to use federal might to coerce banks into submitting funds that belong to customers for its own use.’
Liborous Oshoma, owner of a law firm in Lagos told journalists that, ‘You can’t just drag banks to court and ask them to submit all funds in bank accounts which they’re holding in trust for private individuals.’
Oshoma explains that, ‘The funds are mostly personal deposits. In law, orders are supposed to be specific, directed and enforceable against individuals or institutions.’
‘But we cannot see how the government assumed it could sue banks to enforce orders against individuals who have not been accused of any criminal offences,’ Oshoma argued.