Justice Nicholas Oweibo of the Federal High Court, Lagos, today dismissed the application filed by a trading company, Fussytech Phone, asking the court to lift the frozen order obtained by the Police through its Special Fraud Unit (PSFU) against it’s account in Providus Bank Nigeria Limited.
The Police had sought and obtained a freezing order against some accounts in about 29 banks across the country on the ground of receiving stolen money one of which the applicant account is domiciled
PSFU had through it’s Officer-in-Charge of Legal Department, Mr Emmanuel Jackson, a Chief Superintendent of Police (CSP), had obtained the freezing order via an Exparte application alleging money laundering resulting from a N500m wire fraud that rocked Union Bank of Nigeria Limited, wherein internet fraudsters, otherwise known as Yahoo boys, gained access into the bank’s data base and fraudulently transfer the sum of N500 million from a customer account into several accounts in twenty nine other banks
However, dissatisfied with the freezing order, one of the owners of the accounts Fussytech Phones, a company owned by the wife of a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, SAN, Modinat Olumide-Fusika, whose account in Providus Bank was said to have received N1, 590,000.00 from the stolen fund, filed an application asking the court to lift the frozen order.
Fussytech Phones in it’s application seeking the lifting of the order, in it’s affidavit before the court claimed that the police suppressed material facts in obtaining the frozen order as they failed to inform the court that similar order had earlier been obtained and lifted by a brother judge, Justice Peter Lifu of the same court.
The company also alleged that the police application constitutes an abuse of court process due to similar application before Justice Lifu .
Ruling on the application today, Justice Nicholas Oweibo dismissed the applicant’s application seeking the lifting of the freezing order.
Giving reason for dismissing the application, Justice Oweibo said there is no evidence that the police were served with the order of Justice Peter Lifu which lifted the earlier PND order on the ground of effluent of time and consequently, there could be no issue of suppression of facts.
The judge also held that the issue of abuse of process on the ground that there was multiplicity of suit could not stand as the earlier suit filed by Union Bank as well as the appeal against Justice Lifu’s ruling have been withdrawn.
Justice Oweibo further made a distinction between the earlier order of Justice Lifu which is on Post No Debit, PND, and the new order obtained by the police which is on freezing the said account.
He said that by reason of his order , the applicant can operates the account, but the sum of N1, 590,00 the subject matter of the alleged stolen money must remain untampered with in the account.
He therefore dismissed the applicant’s suit seeking the lifting of the freezing order.
The crux of the matter, arose when some Yahoo boys burst into the data base of Union Bank Limited and moved the over N500 million from the corporate account of one of the bank’s customer, ENL Consortium Limited with account number 0050546481 and transfered same to accounts in other banks from where it was also moved to other accounts and consequently the sum of N1, 590,000.00 got into the account of Fussytech Phone in Providus Bank from Fedility Bank plc .
Upon the discovery of the fraud, Union Bank reported the matter at the Force Criminal Investigation Department, ForceCiD, Milverton, Ikoyi Lagos and unilaterally dragged the 28 banks’ and the police to court wherein it obtained a Post No Debit, ( PND) order on several accounts in the 28 banks across the country in a bid to prevent the dissipation of the money illegally transferred from the bank.
The petitioner had in the motion on Notice filed before Justice Lifu’s court asked for an order directing the 28 banks to reverse the said money to Union Bank.
However, in response to the Union Bank’s application, all the respondents’ banks filed counter affidavits urging the court to discharge the ex-parte order earlier granted which places Post No Debit, PND on several accounts in thier bank.
In thier counter affidavits, the 28 respondents’ banks urge the court to lift the freezing order as Union Bank has no power of prosecution and as such could not legally obtained a PND on peoples’ account.
They added that it is only the police and other security agencies that have the power of prosecuting crime.
After hearing all the parties, Justice Lifu while ruling on the respondents’ application lifted the PND order and fixed hearing of the substantive motion till September, 26.
However, dissatisfied with the ruling of Justice Lifu, Union Bank appealed the order but later withdrew the appeal as well as the matter at the Federal High Court, leaving the police to handle the matter.
According to information made available to this medium, the fraudster’s otherwise called Yahoo Boys got access to Union Bank database and moved the sum of N523,337 100.00 from the account of a customers , ENL Consortium Ltd, Nigerian Ports Collection Account No. 0050546481 and transferred same to several accounts in the respondents’ banks.
The respondents in the Union Bank suit are: Access Bank Plc; AB Microfinance Bank Limited; Baobab Microfinance Bank Nigeria Limited; Branch International Financial Services Limited; Ecobank Nigeria Limited, Fidelity Bank PlC First Bank of Nigeria PlC, First City Monument Bank PlC, Guarantee Trust Bank PlC, Heritage Bank Limited, Polaris Bank PlC, Providus Bank; Lotus Bank, Nirsal MFB; Stanbic IBTC Bank PlC, Standard Chartered Bank, Sterling Bank PlC, Unity Bank of Nigeria PLC, United Bank for Africa PLC, Wema Bank PLC, Zenith Bank PLC, ; Kwystone Bank Limited, Jaiz Bank; Kuda Bank; OPAY; PALMPAY; Suntruat Bank Limited, ; TAJ Bank Limited,; and Commissioner Of Police, Police Special Fraud Unit, Milverton Road, Ikoyi, Lagos.