The Federal Government on Friday accused commercial banks in the country of shielding owners of accounts without Bank Verification Numbers (BVN) in a bid to frustrate the intention of the policy which is to curb the flow of illicit funds and corruption.
The federal government stated this at the hearing of the suit filed through the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, against the 19 commercial banks and the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).
Lawyer to the federal government, Ade Okeaya-Inneh (SAN), said “our contention is that the banks do not have the locus (legal right) to defend this action (suit).
“Our contention is that the plaintiff has a public duty to ensure that a law made by the federal government through the CBN is obeyed. The problem is if the directive to have BVN is not complied with, what is the implication? What is before the court is the implementation of a regulation.
“If the defendants say they did not know who own the money in the accounts without BVN, how can they then come to defend the case?
“What locus do they have if they did not disclose the owners of the money despite the order of the court to that effect? If they are to be heard, on whose behalf?
“They (the lawyers representing the respondents) are defending the suit on behalf of the bank, but the action and the order of the court is not against the banks per se, it is against the supposed owners of the funds.
“The court’s order was for them to verify the owners of the accounts. They have not done that and did not disclose any body as the owners of the accounts.
“So, we are arguing that they cannot act for unknown persons, whose identities they have not disclosed. If they do not know who their customers are, then they cannot defend the suit.”
He urged the court to reject all the processes filed by the defendants in the case.