Sixteen #EndSARS campaigners have asked a Federal High Court in Abuja to reverse the restriction placed on their accounts by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).
The CBN had frozen the accounts of 20 #EndSARS campaigners through an ex-parte order obtained from Justice Ahmed Mohammed to back his action.
In a supporting affidavit, the apex bank had also alleged that the #EndSARS campaigners may have received their funding through acts of terrorism and asked the judge to swiftly freeze the accounts.
However, 16 of the affected persons filed a motion on Thursday through their lawyer, Femi Falana (SAN), to set aside the order.
The 16 applicants include Bolatito ‘Rinu’ Oduala, who is a member of the panel set up by the Lagos State Government to look into police brutality, Chima Ibebunjoh, Mary Kpengwa, Saadat Bibi, Bassey Israel, Wisdom Obi, Nicholas Osazele, Ebere Idibie, Akintomide Yusuf, Uhuo Promise, Mosopefoluwa Odeseye, Adegoke Pamilerin, Umoh Ekanem, Babatunde Segun, Mary Oshifowora and Idunnu Williams.
While contending that the freezing of their bank accounts was an act of illegality, they stressed that the CBN Governor, Ifeanyi Emefiele froze the accounts before approaching the court much later for a freezing order.
They also argued that the court order permitting Emefiele to freeze their accounts for 90 days was a violation of their right to fair hearing under Section 36 of the 1999 Constitution and Article 7 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights (Ratification and Enforcement) Act, Laws of the Federation, 2004.
The #EndSARS campaigners argued that Justice Mohammed’s 90-day freezing order violated Order 26 Rules 5, 10 and 11(1) and (2) of the Federal High Court Civil Procedure Rules, 2019, which prescribes a maximum of 14 days for the validity of an ex parte order.
Faulting their being labelled as terrorist by the CBN governor, the #EndSARS campaigners said the CBN was neither one of the investigating nor prosecuting agencies recognised under the Terrorism Prevention Act, 2011 and the Terrorism Prevention (Amendment) Act, 2013.
Marshal Abubakar, who deposed to an affidavit filed in support of the suit, said the claimants’ accounts were frozen in October by CBN without any justification as the bank provided no evidence to back its terrorism claim.
He added that all the persons whose accounts were frozen had never been arrested for any crime before, adding that they were only protesters whose right to protest was recently reiterated by President Muhammadu Buhari.