Court orders seizure of funds hidden in 7 banks over TSA contravention

Justice Chuka Obiozor of the Federal High Court in Lagos on Thursday granted an interim order for seven commercial banks in Nigeria to remit a total of N2.87 trillion ($793 million) said to have been hidden with them.

It will be recalled that the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) had in the past sanctioned banks for hiding funds belonging to the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) from the TSA.

The banks are United Bank for Africa (UBA), Diamond Bank Plc, Skye Bank Plc, First Bank Limited, Fidelity Bank Plc, Keystone Bank Limited and Sterling Bank Plc.

The documents stated that $277.9m was in Diamond Bank, $18.9m in First Bank, $24.5m in Fidelity Bank, $17m in Keystone Bank, and $46.5m in Sterling Bank.

On the contrary, the said funds are held with the full knowledge of the relevant Agencies of the government including the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), the DSS, the National Assembly and the Inspector General of Polices's Special Investigation Panel, with whom we have engaged extensively over same.

Akinseye-George prayed the court to give the order of remittance to avoid possible diversion, misapplication, and misappropriation of the funds.

The forfeited sum ought to have been remitted to the federal government but had allegedly been hidden with the banks in apparent breach of the Treasury Single Account (TSA) policy of the federal government.

The government had expressed optimism that the directive would promote transparency and facilitate compliance with Sections 80 and 162 of the 1999 Constitution.

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