‘Why forfeiture of deposits over BVN shouldn’t be allowed’
•Group seeks to be joined in suit
The Incorporated Trustees of Total Support for Rule of Law and Justice Initiative has faulted moves by the Federal Government to obtain a court order for the permanent forfeiture of all deposits in all of the nation’s 19 commercial banks without Bank Verification Number (BVN).
The group, which has already approached the Federal High Court, Abuja to be joined as defendant in a suit filed by the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami (SAN), against the commercial banks, said it wants to speak for and defend the interest of some Nigerians, who may not have obtained their BVN based on some prevailing reasons beyond their control.
The group, in the motion filed by Chukwudi Igwe on its behalf, told the court that if the permanent forfeiture order was allowed, it may affect accounts previously owned by deceased persons who may not be able to appear to show cause why the proceeds should not be permanently forfeited to the Federal Government.
Other persons that may be affected by the order, according to the group, are those who may not have the finances to appear before the court for the purposes of showing cause why government should not take over money.
It said: “The other persons who may be serving prison terms in Nigeria and outside Nigeria on charges not bordering on financial crimes, those lying down in hospital beds, those mentally ill, Nigerians living abroad, those in coma and many others might not have the chance to be in court.”
Consequently, the applicant stated that it would be difficult and impracticable to identify and isolate the account numbers of holders with disabilities or handicaps or under imprisonment or other challenges highlighted above.
The group added that its responsibility was to ensure that the rights of the indigent and other Nigerians were protected in accordance with extant laws.
In a 28-paragraph affidavit dated October 27, accompanying the application deposed to by one Agnes Peter, the applicant said the move was altruistic.
Justice Nnamdi Dimgba of the Federal High Court, Abuja, had on October 17 this year, directed that 19 money deposit banks in the country to freeze accounts without BVN. The order was consequent upon an ex-parte application brought by the AGF.
The banks were given 14 days from the date of the order to show cause why funds in the non-BVN accounts should not be permanently forfeited to the public (government).
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