Falana Urges Court to Unfreeze Accounts of Alleged #EndSARS Promoters

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Femi Falana

I move around the world undisturbed, says senior lawyer

A Federal High Court in Abuja has been urged to lift the order it made on November 4 this year freezing the accounts of some individuals alleged to have been behind the #EndSARS protest.

The request is contained in an application filed by the law firm of Falana and Falana’s Chambers, on behalf of 16 of the 20 individuals and firms affected by the order made by Justice Ahmed Mohammed, upon an ex-parte motion by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).

This is coming as human rights lawyer and Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), Mr. Femi Falana, has reacted to the report made against him at the International Criminal Court (ICC), saying that he moves around the world without any disturbance.

It is the contention of the applicants that the freezing of their accounts, without their being heard, was unlawful and a violation of their fundamental human rights.

The applicants specifically prayed for an order, setting aside “the mandatory ex-parte order made on the 4th day of November, 2020 in this suit freezing all the identifiable and/or traceable bank accounts of the 1, 2, 3, 5, 6,7, 8, 10 12, 13, 14, 15, 17 and 20th defendants/applicants herein.”

They are Bolatito Oduala, Chima Ibebunjoh, Mary Kpengwa, Saadat Bibi, Basey Isreal, Wisdom Obi, Nicholas Osazele, Ebere Idibie, Akintomide Yusuf, Uhuo Promise, Mosopefoluwa Odeseye, Adegoke Emmanuel, Umoh Ekanem, Babatunde Segun, Mary Oshifowora and Idunnu Williams.

The grounds of their application, includes that the the ex-parte order was made to validate an illegal act because the applicant “unlawfully froze the accounts of the defendants/applicants before seeking and obtaining the orders of the court on November 4, 2020.

They argued that the order ex-parte was anchored on misrepresentation of material facts and based on suppression of material facts, adding that it constitutes a gross abuse of the process of the court.

The applicants also argued that the court made the ex-parte order empowering the plaintiff/applicant (CBN Governor) to direct the heads of the banks to freeze forthwith all transactions on the bank accounts of the defendants/applicants for a period of 90 days pending the outcome of investigation and inquiry currently being conducted by the CBN, without affording the respondents/applicants the right of fair hearing.

Meanwhile, Falana, has reacted to the report made against him at ICC, saying that there is not cause for alarm.

Joseph Nwaegbu, a Nigerian lawyer, had had filed a criminal complaint against Falana at the ICC in Hague for his alleged role in the #EndSARS
protest.

But reacting in a piece entitled “Let the guilty be afraid ”, Falana justified his actions, saying he decided to speak out loud against oppression and brutality.

He cited a reference to the report of a judicial commission of enquiry on the alleged killings of some members of the Islamic Movement of Nigeria (IMN) by the Nigerian army in Kaduna in December 2015, noting that the event was “a precursor of things to come” under the current administration.

The human rights lawyer added that he feared that failure to rebuke such actions would embolden perpetrators to “match from Shiites to non-Shiites, to anyone who happens to hold a view different from the one they cherish, or who dares look at their god-head with eyes other than that of worship and devotion”.

“The latest has been the use of men of the Nigerian Army to wage genocidal attack on peaceful and unarmed #EndSARS protesters especially at the Lekki Toll Gate in Lagos. A full-scale war declared illegally in Port Harcourt has claimed the lives of scores of unarmed civilians,” he said.

“It was because they have no respect for the Rule and the duly constituted courts that these elements have persisted in dabbling into politics and civil affairs as recently shown in their deployment of soldiers in full battle gear and war formation against peaceful protesters.

“I hear that those who (by virtue of the state offices they hold relative to these matters) are sure to be called upon by the ICC for explanation are going about trying to divert attention away from themselves.

“I even hear that one such attempt has, in a complaint to the ICC, named me, Femi Falana, as responsible for allegedly instigating the violent EndSARS protests that led to killing innocent citizens, wanton destruction of properties and other heinous crimes against humanity in Nigeria.

“Mr. Joseph Nwaegbu/Pathfind Attorneys/MNBI and their shadowy minders and paymasters obviously think that the ICC is a forum for frivolities, especially of the type we have gotten accustomed to in Nigeria (like, government and government officials hiring praise-singers or protesters to counter-balance genuine protesters!).

“They will sooner or later know that the ICC is not such a place. I welcome them to pursue their petition. I move around the world and I have easy and undisturbed passage. I hope the shadowy minders and paymasters of Mr. Joseph Nwaegbu/Pathfind Attorneys/MNBI are able to do likewise. In fact, I challenge them to dare!”

Falana said “the current exertions by those responsible for the latest use of the Nigerian army to massacre peaceful protesters are sure to be in vain”, adding that “crimes of such magnitude” can never be swept under the carpet.