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FCMB, Wema Bank, others freeze Benue Govt accounts, AMCON tells court

Felix Oloyede

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FCMB, Wema Bank, others freeze Benue Govt accounts, AMCON tells court

First City Monument Bank Plc, Standard Chartered Bank Nigeria, Suntrust Bank Nigeria Ltd and Wema Bank Plc have complied with the order of a Federal High Court, Abuja, ordering the freezing of all bank accounts of the Benue government.

The attorney for the Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria, AMCON, Ogechukwu Okeke, told presiding judge Judge Inyang Ekwo on Tuesday when she presented the report on compliance with the court order.

On October 26, Judge Ekwo issued an interim order, freezing all Benue government bank accounts maintained at some of the country’s banks following its failure to repay the 333 million naira loan borrowed in 2008.

The judge, who made the order following an ex parte motion by AMCON, also ordered that the bank accounts of HPPS Multilink Services Ltd be frozen pending the hearing and ruling on the background.

NAN reports that the relevant bank accounts of the two interviewees are domiciled with Access Bank Plc; Citibank Nigeria Limited; Eco Bank Nigeria Plc; Fidelity Bank Plc; First Bank Nigeria Plc; First City Monument Bank Plc and Guaranty Trust Bank Pic.

Others include those of Heritage Bank Plc; Keystone Bank Limited; Polaris Bank Limited; Stanbic IBTC Plc; Standard Chartered Bank Nigeria Limited; Sterling Bank Plc; Suntrust Bank Nigeria Limited; Union Bank of Nigeria Plc; United Bank for Africa Plc; Unity Bank Nigeria Plc; Wema Bank Plc and Zenith Bank Plc.

NAN also reports that if AMCON is the requester, the company and the state government are the 1st and 2nd respondents respectively.

However, in the affidavit to prove a cause of compliance filed in court, all banks were listed as 1st to 18th garnishment.

When the case was called, Okeke informed that the case was scheduled to be mentioned and for the banks to show compliance.

She said, however, that so far only four banks had been able to demonstrate compliance.

“These are the 6th, 12th, 14th and 17th respondents. We ask that they be relieved of the proceedings, ”the lawyer told the court.

Judge Ekwo then issued an order releasing the four banks.

Okeke subsequently requested date to hear the lawsuit and to take another opportunity for the rest of the banks.

But state government attorney Terkura Pepe, SAN, told the court that even though they had not been briefed on the legal proceedings, it stemmed from the respect the defence had for the court.

“We have seen the posting and due to our respect for the court we have requested a certified copy of the processes in court and before the end of the day we will file our processes,” he said.

The judge then adjourned the case until November 22 for a hearing.

NAN reports that AMCON filed an ex parte motion on October 26, with the prosecution number: FHC / ABJ / AMC / 74/2021 dated and filed on September 30 by its counsel, Darlington Ozurumba.

The motion called for five increases.

The court, which granted the reparations, also issued an interim order “freezing and tying up the JAAC (Joint Account Allocation Committee) bank accounts, internal income generated accounts, all current bank accounts, savings, term deposits and/or investment accounts of The 2nd defendant (the Benue government) maintained with all of the banks mentioned above pending the hearing and determination of the lawsuit on the merits.

“An Interim Order is hereby made prohibiting all banks and/or other financial institutions mentioned above in Nigeria from releasing or otherwise dealing with monies held in any account to which the Defendants are signatories pending. the hearing and the decision of the prosecution on the merits.

“An Order is hereby made directing all banks and/or other financial institutions in Nigeria to, within seven (7) days of the date of service of this Order, file and serve an Affidavit of Compliance disclosing a statement on each account, however, designated, held and/or maintained by the Respondents and all accounts to which the Respondents are signatories for a period of six months prior to the date of service of this Order until the date.

Meanwhile, in the affidavit in support of the petition filed by Abubakar Isa, an AMCON staff member, the company described the loan as a toxic loan of qualifying bank assets that were transferred to it by the law to recover.

AMCON told the court that the 1st defendant (the company), which has its office in Kaduna State, collected a loan facility of N333 million from Bank PHB Plc (now Keystone Bank Ltd) on January 31, 2008 “for the purpose of purchasing 5,000 pieces of motorcycles from Defendant 2 and his workers through his State Nigeria Labor Congress, subject to an irrevocable standing payment order (ISPO}).

“That the 2nd defendant is the government of the State of the beneficiaries which also gave the ISPO the guarantee of the repayment of the loan by deduction from the salaries of its employees and made the payment to the bank, but did not manage to do it.

“That the loan was for the agreed period of 24 months at an interest rate of 19% per annum.

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