Court rules on BVN suit June 11 as FG accuses banks of failing to implement policy
Ade Adesomoju, Abuja
The Federal High Court in Abuja on Friday fixed June 11 to deliver judgment in a suit by the Federal Government seeking an order of forfeiture of funds in accounts with Bank Verification Numbers.
At the hearing of the suit on Friday, the Federal Government accused commercial banks of shielding owners of accounts the accounts without BVN.
The Federal Government alleged that the banks’ opposition to the suit implied the banks’ failure to enforce the BVN policy.
The Attorney-General of the Federation, representing the Federal Government, through a lawyer, Mr. Ade Okeaya-Inneh (SAN), also challenged the right of the banks to be heard in the case.
He said, “Our contention is that the banks do not have the locus (legal right) to defend this action (suit).
“Our contention is that the plaintiff has a public duty to ensure that a regulation made pursuant to a law by the Federal Government through the Central Bank of Nigeria is obeyed.”
He added, “If the defendants say they did not know those who know the money in the accounts without BVN, how can they then come to defend the case?
“What locus do they have if they did not disclose the owners of the money despite the order of the court to that effect? If they are to be heard, on whose behalf?
“They (the lawyers representing the respondents) are defending the suit on behalf of the bank, but the action and the order of the court is not against the banks per se, it is against the supposed owners of the funds.
“The court’s order was for them to verify the owners of the accounts.
“They have not done that and did not disclose any body as the owners of the accounts.
“So, we are arguing that they cannot act for unknown persons, whose identities they have not disclosed. If they do not know who their customers are, then they cannot defend the suit.”
He asked the court to reject all the processes filed by the defendants in the case.
Another member of the Federal Government’s legal team, James Igwe (SAN), who argued the substantive suit, urged the court to grant the plaintiff’s prayers in the main suit.