Justice John Tsoho
The Federal High Court did not freeze accounts of #EndSars protesters but those of corporate bodies under suspicion of money laundering, John Tsoho, Chief Judge of the court said on Tuesday.
Speaking at a special court session to mark the beginning of the 2020 to 2021 legal year of the court, Justice Tsoho said that those who made such allegations of the court freezing the accounts of #EndSars protesters were being uncharitable to the court.
According to him, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) approached the court seeking an order to freeze certain accounts of corporate bodies and names of individuals were not attached to the applications.
“I assigned those cases and no individual’s name was mentioned,” Mr. 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 activity under cover, then it is unfortunate for people to begin to call and vilify the court, making damaging allegations against the court,” he added.
He maintained that if such steps had not been taken, the Nigerian economy would have collapsed.
He added that if any of the accounts belonged to any #EndSars protester, it was a mere coincidence.
In November, CBN governor Godwin Emefiele obtained an ex-parte order from the Abuja Division of the federal high court to freeze the accounts of 19 individuals and one company linked to #EndSARS protests.
The government action was largely viewed as a deliberate crackdown on the protesters. There are also issues around the legality of the action as the central banker was said to have effected the restriction on the affected accounts before obtaining the order.
Mr. Tsoho’s assertion could further raise controversy on a matter that has already drawn condemnation locally and internationally.
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