An Abuja Division of the Federal High Court on Monday ordered the temporary freezing of 45 bank accounts belonging to three companies allegedly involved in smuggling of rice into Nigeria.
The companies whose accounts were domiciled with ten commercial banks in Nigeria are Sun Sam A1 International Limited, Sun Sam International Limited, and Sunchrist O. Trans Nigeria Limited.
Ahmed Mohammed, the judge, directed the Head offices of First Bank Nigeria PLC, Stanbic IBTC Bank, Union Bank PLC, United Bank for Africa (UBA), Zenith Bank PLC, Sterling Bank, Access Bank, First City Monument Bank (FCMB), Polaris Bank and Eco Bank Nigeria to freeze forthwith all transactions from those accounts for 45 days.
Mr Mohammed said this was pending the outcome of the investigation and inquiry currently being conducted by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).
Ruling on an ex-parte application on behalf of the apex bank by its counsel, Nosike Nicholas, to freeze the accounts for 90 days, the Judge granted the apex bank permission to freeze the accounts for only 45 days.
He said the order of freezing for 45 days was subject to renewal for further days upon an application by the CBN, in the event that its investigation could not be concluded within the first 45 days.
Mr Nosike anchored the application on section 60, Paragraph (B) of the Banks and other Financial Institutions Act (BOFIA) 1991 as amended.
He told the court that there was an ongoing investigation against the defendants who are customers of the commercial banks.
According to him, transactions under the accounts can cause significant financial loss to the rice industries in particular and the Nigeria economy in general.
The case was adjourned to December 12 for further hearing.