The Federal government has accused commercial banks of shielding owners of accounts without Bank verification Number, BVN.
The Attorney-General of the Federation, represented by Mr. Ade Okeaya-Inneh (SAN) made this accusation on Friday, when he appeared before a Federal High court in Abuja in a suit in which the Federal Government is seeking to take over funds in bank accounts whose owners have not come forward with their BVNS.
Banks are opposed to the government’s bid to take over the funds.
But while alleging that the banks’ opposition implied that they have failed to enforce the BVN policy, the federal government said that the financial institutions did not have the locus (legal right) to defend the suit.
Mr. Okeaya-Inneh said, “Our contention is that the banks do not have the locus (legal right) to defend this action (suit).
“Our contention is that the plaintiff has a public duty to ensure that a regulation made pursuant to a law by the Federal Government through the Central Bank of Nigeria is obeyed.”
“If the defendants say they did not know those who own the money in the accounts without BVN, how can they then come to defend the case?
“What locus do they have if they did not disclose the owners of the money despite the order of the court to that effect? If they are to be heard, on whose behalf?
“They (the lawyers representing the respondents) are defending the suit on behalf of the bank, but the action and the order of the court is not against the banks per se, it is against the supposed owners of the funds.
“The court’s order was for them to verify the owners of the accounts.
“They have not done that and did not disclose any body as the owners of the accounts.
“So, we are arguing that they cannot act for unknown persons, whose identities they have not disclosed. If they do not know who their customers are, then they cannot defend the suit.”
The SAN called on the court to reject all the processes filed by the defendants in the case while another member of the Federal government’s legal team , James Igwe (SAN) urged the court to grant the plaintiff’s prayers in the main suit.