* RAS demand the suppression of the rights of protesters
By Nnamdi Ojiego
The freezing of the bank accounts of 20 young people classified as promoters of #EndSars by the Federal Government, yesterday, drew criticism from high-ranking lawyers, who accused the government of suppressing the rights of protesters.
Meanwhile, youth representatives on the Judicial Investigation and Restitution Panel for Victims of SARS Abuses and the Lekki toll gate incident boycotted yesterday’s session in protest against the federal government’s action.
The panel had scheduled to receive tests from the Nigerian Army, NA, but was unable to proceed due to the absence of the youth representatives, Majekodunmi Temitope and Oduala Bolatito Olorunrinu.
The duo did not appear on the panel due to the First Bank of Nigeria account frozen in Oduala.
His bank account was allegedly frozen on November 6, 2020, due to the alleged sponsorship of the #EndSARS protests.
The Nigerian Army lawyer, Mr. A. T. Kehinde (SAN), announced his appearance.
However, the chair of the panel, Judge Doris Okuwobi (retired), suspended the panel session until November 14.
The Abuja Division of the Federal High Court had given the go-ahead to freeze the accounts of 20 #EndSARS promoters.
The order followed an ex parte order presented through a team of attorneys headed by a former Federation Attorney General and Minister of Justice, Mr. Michael Aondoakaa, SAN.
However, the lead attorneys, in separate interviews with Sunday, urged those whose accounts were frozen to go to court.
It is the repression of the rights of protesters – Ubani
A former Second Vice President of the Nigerian Bar Association, NBA, Mr. Monday Ubani, said: “What is your crime? Has the protest been declared a crime under any law? Is there any enactment that criminalizes protests by #EndSARS protesters? Has there been any criminal law made by the state or federal government? If there is no such law that criminalizes that particular act that took place, it is absolutely absurd for any government to freeze a person’s account. The constitution says that no one can be responsible for any crime that is not written. So if the protests have not been criminalized, there is no basis for freezing anyone’s account. It is clearly absurd to hold someone responsible for a crime that has not been enacted. Am I totally stunned?
It is a suppression of rights. It is equivalent to the suppression of rights by the government. It is a violation of their fundamental human rights. My happiness is that the judiciary will strive to restore the rights of those whose rights have been violated. And I urge those whose rights have been violated to come to court. “
Victims must go to court – Pedro
For his part, a former Lagos State Attorney General, Lawal Pedro, SAN, said: “Since the Central Bank of Nigeria obtained a court order before freezing people’s accounts and a public affairs company linked to the protests #EndSARS, the freezing of the accounts is legal. Whether the order was granted in error or not in violation of the promoters / sponsors’ rights is another matter. But under the 1999 Nigerian Constitution, the order to freeze accounts is binding on all persons and authorities until it is overturned.
“What the affected people must do is approach the same court so that the order is annulled and the account can be unfrozen by their bankers. However, the judge would only be obliged to annul the order if he is convinced that the order was granted without jurisdiction or as a result of a misrepresentation of the facts. That is the path of the rule of law. In my opinion, the order was wrongly granted and there are substantial grounds on which an application to vacate the order can be based. “
FG’s action is unconstitutional: Ozekhomen
Another senior lawyer, Chief Mike Ozekhomen, said: “The protesters were peaceful and were using their resources to manage the protest. They were never violent until suspected government agents started shooting people on sight. Now that they go after the protesters’ bank account is wrong, it is unconstitutional. The #EndSARS protesters whose accounts were frozen have one thing to do. They should go to court. “