Federal High Court in Lagos ruled on Thursday that seven commercial banks should temporarily remit the sum of $793.2 million allegedly kept illicitly in care of the banks, which breaches the Federal Government’s Treasury Single Account, TSA, policy.
The presiding judge, Justice Chuka Obiozor ordered the seven banks alleged of unlawfully keeping the funds designated Federal Government’s Asset Recovery dollars account resident with the Central Bank of Nigeria.
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According to court papers tendered by counsel for the Attorney General of the Federation, Prof. Yemi Akinseye-George, SAN, $367.4 million was illicitly concealed by three government agencies in one of the banks, while $41 million was unlawfully kept in a NAPIMS fixed deposit account with another bank.
The court papers stated that $277.9 million, $46.5 million, $24.5 million, $18.9 million, $17 million indifferent banks respectively.
Testifying to a 15-paragraph affidavit in support of an exparte application filed by the AGF, Vincent Adodo, a lawyer from Akinseye-George’s chamber,disclosed that seven banks collaborated with Federal Government officials to hide the monies in breach of the government’s TSA policy.
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He said the funds, are federal government funds sourced from different ministries, departments, parastals and agencies in terms of revenues, donations, transfers, refunds, grants, taxes, fees, dues, tariffs etc.
Adodo included that the banks had fallen short of remitting the funds to the TSA domiciled in the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, hence violating the stipulated guidelines by the AGF, which fixed September 15, 2015 as the deadline for the transfer of such funds.
According to the legal practitioner, “The 1st to 7th respondents (banks), in collaboration with and/or collusion with unknown officials of the Federal Government, conspired to disobey the relevant constitutional provisions, thereby depriving the Federal Government of funds belonging to it, which are needed urgently to fund pressing national projects under the 2017 budget.”
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Among the allegedly culpable government agencies is National Petroleum Developing Company, NNPC. , Akinseye-George, while moving the exparte application, advised that it to ensure justice is served, it is best for Justice Obiozor to pronunce that the banks remit the funds to the Federal Government, to avert the funds being transferred or dissipate.
After listening to the SAN, Justice Obiozor granted the interim orders.
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Justice Obiozor, while making his judgement ruled that the order be published in a national daily newspaper.
Afterward, the case was adjourned till August 8, 2017 for any individual interested in the funds to come forward with cogent reasons why the provisional orders should not be made permanent.