A renowned human rights legal practitioner, Femi Falana, Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), had cautioned the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to stop intimidation of #EndSARS protesters in the country. The legal practitioner had issued the warning after a federal high court ordered the CBN to unfreeze the bank accounts of 20 #EndSARS protesters of police brutality and extra-judicial killings.
The court had admitted the argument of the counsel to the 20 victims of CBN intimidation that the neither the government nor the CBN presented document of trial of the affected persons, which include a business organization; acknowledging that no prima facie evidence of crime committed was established.
Falana had, therefore, admonished the CBN to eschew from partisan politics and concentrate on its mandate of banking and regulation of monetary policies. He argued that the CBN went out of the limit of its mandate in freezing the bank accounts of 19 #EndSARS protesters and one business corporation in the October 2020 mass action by Nigerian youths agitating police brutality and extra-judicial killings. The legal practitioner attributed the action to incursion into partisan politics by the CBN. Falana maintained that the CBN did not conduct adequate investigation before taking the action of freezing the bank accounts of the 20 victims. He was of the view that further the CBN deceived the court to believe that grave offenses were committed, which would require time to run an investigation.
The CBN had, however, noted that the #EndSARS protest was an act of terrorism.
Falana had declared inter alia: “I do hope that sufficient lessons have been learnt particularly by the Central Bank to desist from jumping into the political arena by attempting to freeze the accounts of people who are involved in the struggle one way or the other against the government.”
Falana had insisted that the #EndSARS protesters committed no offense, noting that the CBN made no attempt to investigate any of the persons being sanctioned or any other individual.
He further admonished the CBN to be more circumspect in the future, warning that people whose accounts were frozen will be proceeding to court to challenge the “gross violation” of their rights to their property by the CBN.
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