Abstract：The federal high court in Abuja has ordered the central bank of Nigeria, CBN, to unfreeze the account of ojukwu that has been frozen which is controlled by Mr. chikaosolu ojukwu and his firm, stabilization energy ltd.
The federal high court in Abuja has ordered the central bank of Nigeria, CBN, to unfreeze the account of ojukwu that has been frozen which is controlled by Mr. chikaosolu ojukwu and his firm, stabilization energy ltd.
On March 14, the apex bank received an order allowing it to freeze the accounts for 180 days. It said in one of the statements of the court that Ojukwu and his companies were involved in a foreign exchange fraud. It was brought to the attention of the court that an investigation found that the lawyer was involved in a monetary transaction that is illegal, claiming that he got $4000 from a commercial bank under the pretense of Personal Travel Allowance, PTA. As a result, the CBN convinced the court to impose an order imposing a post-no-debit restriction on all bank accounts related to the Defendant, until the completion of its investigations.
It said that it was allowed to prevent the economy from collapsing, claiming that there are a lot of wrongdoings in the Nigeria FX market. However, in response to an application submitted by Defendant and his company.
The court ruled that Plaintiff (CBN) “acted recklessly in freezing the accounts without completing due diligence.” According to Justice Mohammed, there was evidence before the court establishing that Ojukwu traveled to Atlanta on October 14, 2021, after receiving the $4000 as PTA.
He saw that Defendant displayed his international passport, which had been legally validated by Immigration, at both the entrance and leave ports. “There is no doubt that the Plaintiff (CBN) has the authority to seek an ex-parte order, but where there is proof, as in this case, that the order was acquired incorrectly, the court is compelled to throw it aside,” Justice Mohammed said.
He said that there was no authentication from the CBN that the Defendant used the $4000 he got in October 2021 for travel expenditures.
Furthermore, the court reprimanded the apex bank for also suspending his company's account, despite the fact that there was no proof that it received currency from any bank. It ruled that the Plaintiff's actions were “pre-emptive, irresponsible, damaging, and severely hurtful to the Defendants.”
As a result, it vacated the ex-parte ruling and instructed all impacted commercial banks that acted on the strength of the CBN's directive to immediately unfreeze all 18 accounts.
Ojukwu's plea was denied by the court that the CBN pay him N500 million in compensation for what he called an “ill-motivated” move against him and his company. He had maintained that he could not pay his personnel or undertake any legal action in his law chamber due to a lack of finances caused by the post-no-debit restriction imposed on his bank accounts.
Furthermore, while Justice Mohammed overturned the freezing order, he refused to take out the name of Ojukwu's firm from the substantive litigation, which is still proceeding before another judge in the same court. He stated that such an order could only be granted in a substantive case, not in an application to vacate an interim injunction.
In an affidavit filed in court, Ojukwu stated, “Contrary to the rationale adduced by the CBN, he traveled over 20 times in 2021, but only used PTA once on October 12, 2021.”
“That the 1st Applicant received the aforementioned PTA from Zenith Bank Maitama, Abuja just to please his account officer.” That the 2nd Applicant (Stabilization Energy Limited) has never applied for PTA/BTA (Business Travel Allowance) and has never done any business. “That, at the request of the 1st Applicant, Zenith Bank issued the 1st Applicant with the appropriate forms, verified his passport, visa, took his fingerprint to verify his BVN, and debited, and then issued the 1st Applicant with the paltry sum of $4000, after which his passport was duly stamped.”
“That, following the release of the $4000, Zenith Bank got copies of the 1st Applicant's travel papers.” “That the 1st Applicant embarked on the journey the next day, October 13, 2021, from Lagos, boarding Delta Airlines and landing in Atlanta, USA on the 14th of October 2021, also taking off from the USA and landing in London Heathrow on the 17th of October 2021, and eventually returning to Nigeria after duly utilizing the $4000 issued to him as PTA.” “That, to the best of the Applicants' knowledge, Zenith Bank never publicized his or the second Applicant's name as defaulters of the PTA/BTA in accordance with the Central Bank of Nigeria's letter to all banks dated 30th August 2021 with reference BSD/DIR/PUB/LAB/14/059,” he said.
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