The House of Representatives has urged the Governor of the Central Bank (CBN), Mr. Godwin Emefiele to unfreeze 5000 accounts, allegedly frozen by the apex monetary institution.
The directive was consequent upon the adoption of a “motion of urgent national importance”, sponsored by Hon. Mark Gbillah (PDP, Benue).
Presenting the motion, Gbillah said he was “concerned about the plethora of petitions and “Save Our Soul” (SOS) appeals from Nigerian citizens across the country In recent times about the untold hardship and poverty they are experiencing from extended freezing of their personal, corporate and other accounts by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), reports of the current unprecedented freezing of over 5000 bank accounts in Nigeria by the CBN and allegations of injustice, illegality, victimisation and prejudice by the CBN against innocent Nigerians in the freezing of their accounts.
“The burgeoning number of accounts being frozen by the CBN in Nigeria appears to be taking a huge toll on the nation’s economy and livelihood of millions of Nigerians and underscores the seeming flagrant abuse of this power by the CBN when compared to the Central Banks,” he said.
He expressed worries “about innumerable allegations from affected Nigerians that the CBN in its claim of exercising the CBN Governors’ powers to freeze bank accounts under section 608 of the Banks and Other Financial Institutions Act (BOFIA) 2004, incessantly violates Nigerians fundamental human right to fair hearing and presumption of innocence until proven guilty as enshrined in section 36 of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended) when it freezes accounts arbitrarily for extended periods without the knowledge of the account holder, the provision of an opportunity for the account holder to provide an explanation or referral of the matter to section 608 as an appendix to the 2004 amendment of the BOFIA after it was omitted from the body of the act in the 2004 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria (LFN) also raises concerns about whether this section was legitimately signed into law at the time.”
He also lamented: “About the plethora of impending litigations against the CBN which every Nigerian constitutionally has the right to Institute but that will distract the CBN from its primary statutory functions and unnecessarily expend monumental tax payers funds for the acquisition of legal representation by the CBN which should ordinarily have been avoided but for the Indiscretion of its employees.”
The lawmaker lamented that accounts were frozen without providing the opportunity for fair hearing to the holders of the accounts.