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FG Directive on BVN Account: Rule of Law must be applied-Prof Konyinsola Ajayi (SAN)

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Monday, October 23, 2017  6.00pm/Proshare WebTV 

Following the recent ruling by Justice Nnamdi Dimgba of the Federal High Court, granting the request by the Attorney General of the Federation for a temporary forfeiture of bank accounts not linked to BVNs, experts have reacted to the decision. 

Senior Advocate of Nigeria and Professor of Law Konyinsola Ajayi, has called for the full adherence to the rule of law, by the Federal Government. 

Prof Ajayi in an interview with Proshare News said “I support the Federal Government’s policy on money-laundering, but the rule of law must be adhered to, to ensure innocent Nigerians are not affected”. 

He said “The whole development is broad in scope and needs more clarity from the government, on why it is taking this decision. Nigeria has a vibrant diaspora community, of whom many have dormant accounts that they have not been able to do their bank verification number because they have not visited the country in a while”. 

The Legal expert asserted that there was a significant problem with the temporary forfeiture of the accounts, when the courts have not given final judgments on the case. According to him “Does the Nigerian court have the capacity to attend to over 1ml Nigerians that will have to demonstrate the ownership of their accounts”. 

Ajayi noted that this decision could impact the Nigeria Diaspora community, especially the remittances that come in annually into the country. 

Section 17 (5)  of the Foreign Exchange Act of the Central Bank of Nigeria says no foreign currency opened in a domiciliary account, shall be liable to seizure or forfeiture by the State or Federal Government. 

He also expressed concerns about what will happen to the accounts of those who were sick and minors in the country. 

Speaking further the Legal scholar established the fact that the Foreign Exchange Act of the Central Bank of Nigeria does not demand disclosure of the source of the foreign exchange, to be sold in the market(Section 3(1) of the CBN Foreign exchange act of 1995). 

At the moment only 28.6ml Nigerians have their bank accounts linked to the BVN, while about 46 million accounts are yet to be linked. 

Senior Special Assistant to the President on Prosecution, Okoi Obono-Obla justified the government action in a recent interview on Channels Television. Obla said “Our laws are not even as strict as what we find in the United States, if you do not operate a bank account for three years, all the money in that account goes to the federal government of the United States of America”. 

The Presidential aide was of the view that the failure to comply with CBN directive on BVN two years after, signalled that the accounts in question could be fraudulent. 

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