The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has denied allegations that funding for the activities of insurgent group, Boko Haram, were funneled through it.
It would be recalled that Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP), had on 14 October dragged the CBN before the Federal High Court, Ikoyi, following the apex bank’s refusal to grant its freedom of information request.
Reacting to an originating summons with suit number FHC/L/CS/1547/2014 instituted by SERAP, asking for information about persons or the office involved in alleged money laundering activities of the Boko Haram through the CBN, the apex bank denied such allegation, maintaining that it only maintains accounts for and on behalf of the Government, its Ministries, Departments and Agencies.
It added that it can only make payments on behalf of the government agencies based on authorized mandates.
An Australian hostage negotiator, Dr. Stephen Davis, had alleged that in one of his talks with high ranking members of Boko Haram, a certain senior member of staff of the CBN was mentioned as the source through which funds for the sect were laundered through the bank.
A statement by SERAP through its Executive director, Tokunbo Mumuni, said the bank in a letter with reference LSD/ACL/GEN/SRP/02/090 and signed by O.A. Ogundana on behalf of the Director, CBN Legal Services Department, it stated: “We write to acknowledge the receipt of your letter dated 15th September 2014 on the subject captioned: request to provide information about alleged money laundering to Boko Haram through the Bank.
“In your letter you had requested from the CBN information about persons or office involved in alleged money laundering activities of the Boko Haram through the CBN; and information on the exact nature and duration of any such transactions.
“We wish to inform you that after investigating the allegations across various Departments at the Bank that deal with payments, the Bank could not find any information pertaining to persons involved in money laundering through the CBN to fund the activities of Boko Haram.
“The CBN as Banker to the Federal Government only maintains accounts for and on behalf of the Government, its Ministries, Departments and Agencies; Deposit Money banks and other financial institutions in Nigeria and can only make payments on their behalf based on authorized mandates.
“Consequently, the CBN does not maintain or operate any accounts for individuals, officers or offices within the Bank. In conclusion, your organization may wish to note that the Bank maintains a robust Anti-Money Laundering/Combating the Financing of Terrorism framework to prevent the use of its platform for financial crimes. Please, accept the assurances of the Governor, Central Bank of Nigeria”.
In its suit, SERAP asked the court to determine “Whether by virtue of the provision of section 4(a) of the Freedom of Information Act 2011, the CBN is under an obligation to provide the plaintiff with the information requested for”.
SERAP noted that, “a necessary implication of the rule of law is that a public functionary and institution can only act in accordance with law, as to do otherwise may enthrone arbitrariness. Obedience to the rule of law by all citizens but more particularly those who publicly took oath of office to protect and preserve the constitution is a desideratum to good governance. In a democratic society, this is meant to be a norm; it is an apostasy for public institutions like the CBN to ignore the provisions of the law”.
No date has been fixed for hearing of the application.
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