Access Bank Sued for N100m, Says Order to Freeze #EndSARS-linked Account From the CBN
Access Bank Plc has been alleged to have illegally frozen an account used to facilitate media coverage of demonstrations against the #EndSARS campaign against police brutality that recently held Nigeria on the edge for weeks.
On 28th October, Gatefield Nigeria Limited, a public affairs company, initiated a lawsuit against Nigeria’s biggest bank by asset in Abuja, accusing the bank of “unilaterally restricting” its account and prayed the court for a N100 million arbitration award as damages, court documents showed.
The account was used for fundraising to support independent Nigerian reporters that covered the anti-police brutality activities across the country.
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“As more people contributed to our efforts, we noticed that we could no longer conduct transactions on the dedicated account we used for this particular activity,” Adewunmi Emoruwa, the lead strategist for Abuja-based Gatefield told Bloomberg by phone.
The case will establish if refusing a customers’ access to their accounts is legally in order or not. Organisations and persons on social media have also claimed their accounts were blocked on seemingly related grounds.
“A successful challenge at the court could make the difference for others who were likewise targeted,” Emoruwa added.
Access Bank informed Gatefield it received a directive from the Central Bank of Nigeria to place restrictions on the account, prompting the execution of that order on 15th October.
Fatalities exceeding 70 including a minimum of 22 policeman and soldiers were recorded as the originally peaceful protests spiralled into an occasion for violence and wanton looting.
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Uniformed men said to be soldiers killed 10 or more persons as they shot into an assembly of protesters in Lagos on 20th October, Amnesty International said. The Nigerian Army has denied the claim.
Demonstrators stormed the streets in droves from 5th October in reaction to a social media video supposedly showing officers of the police special anti-robbery squad assaulting a civilian.
Anietie Ewang, a Nigerian researcher at Human Rights Watch said its organisation had “documented several cases of organizations and individuals whose bank accounts were frozen after receiving or disbursing funds to support the #EndSARS protests.”