A FEDERAL High Court sitting in Abuja has authorised the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to freeze the accounts of 20 #EndSARS promoters with immediate effect.
The accounts are domiciled in Access Bank, Guaranty Trust Bank, Fidelity Bank, First Bank, United Bank for Africa, and Zenith Bank.
The Lagos State Judicial Panel of Enquiry set up in the aftermath of the violence sparked by the #ENDSARS protests on Friday granted counsel to three #EndSARS protesters accesses to a surveillance video which captured the October 20 shooting at the Lekki toll gate in Lagos.
Also on Friday, President Muhammadu Buhari received a report on destructions resulting from the violence in Lagos from Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu, while Amnesty International vowed threats to the lives of its staff would not stop it from condemning perceived human rights abuses in Nigeria.
Granting the prayers of Central Bank Governor Godwin Emefiele in suit FHC/ABJ/CS/1384/2020, Justice A.R. Mohammed said the apex bank empowered him to direct the head office of each of the banks to “freeze forthwith all transactions on the 20 Bank Accounts listed hereunder and all other bank accounts of the Defendants/Respondents for a period of 90 days pending the outcome of investigation and inquiry currently being conducted” by the CBN.
The defendants include Bolatito Oduala, Chima Ibebunjoh, Mary Kpengwa, Garfield Nigeria Limited, Saadat Bibi, Bassey Israel, Wisdom Obi, Nicholas Osazele, Ebere Idibie, Akintomide Yusuf, Uhuo Promise, Mosopefoluwa Odeseye and Adegoke Emmanuel.
The rest are Umoh Ekanem, Babatunde Segun, Mulu Teghenan, Mary Oshifowora, Winifred Jacob, Victor Solomon and Idunu Williams.
The court also said the 90-day freezing order, “when it lapses, may be renewed upon good cause shown by the applicant.”
It is also directed that “any person, whether artificial or natural, that is affected by this order may apply to the court to have his grievance or complaint heard by the court. The suit is adjourned till February 4, 2021.”
An #ENDSARS promoter, Modupe Odele, was last Sunday stopped by immigration officials from boarding a plane to the Maldives to celebrate her birthday.
Odele, who is a lawyer, admitted offering free legal aid to protesters who were unjustly arrested during #EndSARS protests through www.endsarslegalaid.co and they succeeded in helping over 80 peaceful protesters who were arrested get released.
“I’m not a full-time activist or human rights attorney. I am a corporate lawyer at the moment, so dealing with police stations isn’t my area of expertise. I did what needed to be done in the face of gross injustice and had the support of over 800 wonderful volunteer lawyers,” she said on Twitter.
The spokesman of the Nigeria Immigration Service, Sunday James, said Odele was under travel restriction on the orders of an agency of government
He said: “When there is a directive from any agency of government not specific, we have to enforce either entry or restriction of entry by anybody who has been directed not to be allowed exit or entry, and as a matter of fact, we cannot as a border management agency, allow anybody who has been restricted from leaving the country to go out and we cannot allow anybody who has been restricted from entry to enter.
“So, it is a routine assignment and it has nothing to do with EndSARS. We are the lead agency for the security management of the border. It has to do with the restriction order which we are duty-bound to enforce.”
Odele said yesterday that the NIS had contacted her to come and pick her passport which was seized on Sunday.
The Lagos State Judicial Panel of Enquiry and Restitution for Victims of SARS related abuses and other matters on Friday granted counsel to three #EndSARS protesters access to a surveillance video which captured the October 20 shooting at the Lekki toll gate in Lagos.
Panel chair Judge emeritus Doris Okuwobi directed the Lekki Concession Company (LCC) to make the 20-hour footage available to the protesters’ lawyer, Adesina Ogunlana.
Mr Ogunlana, Justice Okuwobi said, would have 48 hours to review the footage and inform the court which portions of the video should be shown during the panel sitting.
The judge turned down a suggestion by Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) representative Bernard Oniga, for the video to be made more widely available, including to the press.
Soldiers have been accused of shooting at #EndSARS protesters, injuring and killing some; an allegation the military has denied.
The video was played from 11:35 am too well past 5 pm, with a pause in between.
The video, broken into footages of roughly 30 minutes in length, took all of the day’s sitting, with no time left to hear other petitions.
The footage displayed on a large screen in the room showed vehicular movement as well as protesters around the toll gate but captured from a long distance.
The video was tendered by LCC Managing Director, Abayomi Omomuwa, through LCC’s counsel, Rotimi Seriki, on Tuesday.
Mr Omomuwa, whose firm operates the toll gate, said the footage was retrieved from a surveillance camera mounted by the firm on a mast at the toll gate.
Before the video was played, Ogunlana, who previously participated in previous panel sittings as an observer, caused a stir when he announced his appearance as a counsel for #EndSARS protesters.
The former NBA Ikeja Branch chairman told the panel that he would like to cross-examine Omowuwa.
Seriki and Lagos State Government counsel, Abiodun Owonikoko (SAN) opposed Ogunlana’s appearance on the grounds that “#EndSARS” is not a legal person.
Owonikoko described #EndSARS as a nebulous entity with no structure or leader. He sought to know where Ogunlana got his instruction to appear before the panel.
Seriki, on his part, said since the LCC MD was before the panel on a subpoena, “he cannot be cross-examined by every Tom, Dick, and Harry.”
But they both withdrew their objection when Ogunlana called out his three female clients.
The trio – Victoria Oniru, Dabira Ayuku, and Perpetual Kamsiyuchukwu – announced their appearance through Ogunlana.
“I am not representing spirits or ghosts. We’re here, to tell the truth. These are part of the people running underground, being threatened,” Ogunlana said.
Ruling on the matter, Justice Okuwobi admitted the protesters as a party and allowed their lawyer’s appearance.
Seriki and Owonikoko noted that the footage was the date and time-stamped. They suggested that the video should be fast-forwarded to about 5 pm, which is when it starts capturing footage relevant to the shootings.
But Ogunlana opposed them and insisted on the entire 20-hour video to be played, following which it was played for about four hours.
Towards the end of the proceedings, Ogunlana sought the protection of the court for #EndSARS protesters and himself. He said they were operating under a cloud of fear.
But Owonikoko contested the claim, saying there was no threat to the witnesses.
The panel adjourned till November 10 for the Lekki Shootings matter, while sitting resumes today for other petitions.
Meanwhile, the Lagos State Government has rejected a Freedom of Information request for the CCTV footage of the shooting of unarmed protesters at the Lekki toll plaza on October 20, 2020.
This is contained in a letter written by Deyemi Bamgbose on behalf of the Attorney-General of Lagos State.
A human rights lawyer, Inibehe Effiong, had written a letter to the state government last week invoking the Freedom of Information Act 2011.
Effiong had in the letter addressed to Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu requested for the CCTV footage in the interest of the public.
However, in a response dated November 3, 2020, titled, ‘Re: Urgent Request Pursuant to the Freedom of Information Act 2011’, the state government said it could not make the CCTV footage available because the FoI Act is a federal law and it doesn’t apply to states.
The government also cited a 2018 Court of Appeal judgment to back its claim.
Threats to our lives won’t stop us from speaking against abuses in Nigeria —Amnesty Int’l
Amnesty International said yesterday alleged malicious threats against its staff and supporters but vowed that such threats would not stop it from condemning perceived human rights abuses in Nigeria.
It said a group had told reporters in Abuja on Wednesday that it –Amnesty— stood the risk of being attacked on account of its stand on the #EndSARS protests and other perceived human rights abuses in Nigeria.
However, Amnesty Nigeria, in a series of tweets yesterday said: “Amnesty International draws the attention of the Nigerian authorities and the general public to the intimidation and outright threats of attacks that were issued against its staff, supporters, and premises by a faceless and unknown group at a press conference held on 4 November 2020.
“Similar faceless groups had previously invaded our office and given us an ultimatum to leave Nigeria. Amnesty International is a global human rights movement and we are independent of any government.
“The Nigerian authorities owe a legal duty to ensure the protection of lives and properties of every person in the country.
“Malicious threats will not deter us from continuing to speak against human rights violation and abuses by state and non-state actors.
“Despite threats to our lives through faceless organizations and sponsored protests, we will not stay silent. In the face of efforts to evade responsibility or to smear our organisation, we will continue to raise our voices whenever and wherever we see injustice.
“We will continue to call on the Nigerian government to use its authority and resources to investigate all allegations of human rights violations and abuses, including rape, torture, arbitrary detentions and unlawful killings.”