Alex Enumah in Abuja
The Chief Judge of the Federal High Court, Justice John Tsoho, yesterday said that contrary to the believe in some quarters that the court intentionally froze the accounts of #EndSARS promoters, it only played its part as an interpreter of the law.
The CJ noted that the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) had approached the court to ask for an order freezing certain accounts of corporate bodies and names of individuals over suspicion bordering on alleged money laundering.
He, however, stated that the CBN did not attached any names to the applications.
Justice Tsoho spoke at the opening of the 2020/2021 legal year, Abuja yesterday.
He noted that CBN’s request came about three months before the #ENDSARS protest.
The CJ was reacting to the speech by the chairman of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), Olumide Akpata, represented on the occasion by Yusuf Kadiri.
Akpata had expressed disdain over the role played by court in freezing accounts of #EndSARS promoters.
“I must remind us of the dwindling hopes of the common man in the judiciary. Following the #EndSARS protests, this court was involved in the press, in a rather uncomplimentary manner on account of freezing of bank accounts of individuals and organisations believed to have bankrolled the process,” said Akpata.
However, reacting, Tsoho said: “Three months before the protest, the CBN kept bringing applications almost in their hundreds based on what they call deliberate resolve to ruin the economy through money laundering.
“So if it was the #Endsars people that were involved in the activities under cover then it is unfortunate for people to begin to call and vilify the court making damaging allegations against the court.
“If steps were not taken, the Nigerian economy would have collapsed, that is to say about three months ago, the dollar would have exchanged far above N500.”
Meanwhile, Justice Tsoho lamented that COVID-19 pandemic eroded policies of the Federal High Court in the last legal year, 2019/2020.
He said he would focused on enhancing effective administration of justice, welfare of judges and staff and overall management of the court.
He noted that despite the effect of COVID-19 pandemic, the court disposed a total number 8,585 out of the 10,464 cases filed within the last legal year, with 123, 513 cases pending.