MILLIONS of account holders in Nigeria are set to lose their funds as the Federal Government would soon commence temporary seizure of all funds held in bank accounts not linked to any bank Verification Number (BVN) and whose ownership could not be absolutely identified.This development is coming following the Abuja Division of the Federal High Court’s approval of a request by Attorney General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami, for a temporary forfeiture of all funds held in bank accounts not linked to BVNs
According to information obtained by Nigerianflighdeck.com, there are many accounts in various banks of the federation not linked to BVN which may run into billions.
According to the Central Bank (CBN), it had issued 30,511,506 BVNs.
The Nigeria Inter-Bank Settlement System (NIBSS) also stated that a total of 45.85 million bank accounts remain unlinked although when compared with the active accounts the number stood at 15.72 million unlinked to BVN as at February 2017.
The order followed an originating motion of notice filed by the AGF on behalf of the Nigerian government on September 28.
Justice Nnamdi Dimgba handed down the order on October 17 while ruling on an ex-parte motion FHC/ABJ/CS/911/2017 filed on September 28 this year by the Federal Government and the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF).
19 Banks are affected by the order namely; Access Bank, Citi Bank, Diamond Bank, Ecobank, Fidelity Bank, First Bank, First City Monument Bank, Guaranty Trust Bank, Heritage Bank, Keystone Bank, Skye Bank, Stanbic IBTC, Standard Chartered, Sterling Bank, Union Bank, Unity Bank, United Bank for Africa, Wema Bank and Zenith Bank.
It was brought pursuant to the Central Bank of Nigeria’s Know Your Customers Guidelines and Section 3 of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act of 2011 as amended.
The enrolled orders from the ruling reads: “That the 1st – 19th defendant banks shall disclose: (a) the names of the accounts as operated; (b) account number(s); (c) outstanding balances (d) domiciliary accounts and (e) the branch/location where the accounts are domiciled of all accounts without BVN.
“That the 1st – 19th defendant banks to disclose any investments made with funds from these accounts without BVN in any products including fixed/term deposits and their liquidation and interest incurred, bank acceptances, commercial Papers and any other relevant information related to the transaction made on the accounts.
“That an order is hereby made freezing the said accounts by stopping all outward payments, operations or transactions (including any bill of exchange) in respect of the accounts pending the hearing and determination of the substantive application.
“That an order is hereby made directing the 1st to 19th defendant banks to disclose any investments made with funds from these accounts without BVN in any products including fixed/term deposits and their liquidation and interest incurred, bank acceptances, commercial papers and any other relevant information related to the transaction made on the accounts.
“That an interim order is hereby made directing the Central Bank of Nigeria and the Nigeria Interbank Settlement Systems to validate the information contained in the affidavit of compliance/disclosure filed by the respective 19 banks within seven days from the date of service on the Central Bank and NIBSS.
“That an interim order is hereby made appointing a Bank Examiner from the Central Bank of Nigeria to examine the books of any bank that fails to comply with the order of the honourable court to file affidavit of disclosure.
“That an interim order is hereby made granting leave to the applicants or any officer authorized by them to advertise the accounts without BVN disclosed by the bank in a widely circulated national newspaper as notice to any person or body corporate or financial institution who may have any interest in any of the said accounts to claim ownership of same within 14 days of the publication of the order and show cause why the proceeds in the account should not be permanently forfeited to the Federal Government of Nigeria.”
Further hearing in the case was fixed for November 16.
Recall that the BVN was launched on February 14 2014 for the purpose of registering all customers in the financial system using biometric technology which involves the process of recording a person’s unique physical traits such as fingerprints and facial features.
Each registered person is then given a BVN number that is unique to him.
The objective according to the CBN is to protect bank customers, reduce fraud and further strengthen the Nigerian banking system.