By Luminous Jannamike
ABUJA – Some residents of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) have expressed disparate views over the order of interim forfeiture made by Justice Nnamdi Dimgba of the Federal High Court, Abuja directing that 46 million bank accounts not covered by the Biometric Verification Number (BVN) but domiciled in 19 Banks be taken over by the federal government
Some of the residents in separate interviews with Vanguard on Monday expressed their excitement over the court directive while others claimed the order of forfeiture sequel to an originating motion of notice filed by Attorney-General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami on behalf of the Nigerian government, was ill-advised and would weaken the nation’s economy.
The BVN is a unique identification number that can be verified and used to transact business across all the banking platforms in Nigeria.
The CBN imposed the BVN policy to capture customers’ data for financial transactions and check fraud in the banking system.
Deji Adeyanju, a political activist, told Vanguard that the federal government appeared not to have thought about the implications of such directives on the health of commercial banks in the country and by the extension the Nigerian economy before seeking the interim order of forfeiture from the courts.
He also explained that most of the bank accounts slated for forfeiture were owned and operated by Nigerians in Diaspora who may not have been disposed to returning to home for the purpose of acquiring BVN for their accounts.
“We are saying that the federal government has killed the Nigerian economy. Now they want to bury it completely. I wonder why they want to take a move that will affect the economy negatively. The practice globally is that banks are allowed to lend money to investors according to a certain ratio of the total amount of money deposits they have. If the volume of the deposits domiciled with them is reduced by this kind of half-cooked measure, the power of banks to make funds available to keep the economy afloat will shrink and you know that could spell doom for many businesses and families in the country.
“In allusion, we saw what the government did with domiciliary bank accounts and how it negatively affected the economy and the value of the Naira. Now they have come up with this measure to further plunge the economy into crisis.
“Mind you some of those accounts in question belong to Nigerians in Diaspora who may not have acquired necessary documentations to enable them come home to get the BVN and return to their respective bases abroad.’’ he said.
Similarly, another resident, Prince Tersoo, said the confiscation of millions of bank accounts without BVN is not the major problem confronting Nigeria. As such, the federal government should not concern itself with it at this point.
According to him, “there are more pressing issues that demand governments’ attention than bank accounts without BVN.
“These accounts may not even harbour proceeds of fraudulent practices but could simply belong to Nigerians who went overseas to study or traveled abroad hoping to return but got stuck at the moment by no making of theirs?
“Is the government telling us that such individuals would lose the finances they kept in the banks hoping to start life with upon their return to Nigeria? That is ridiculous and most unfair.
“I maintain the BVN issue is not a critical problem confronting our nation. The government should forget about implementing the order. ” he said.
However, Kingdom Okere, a lawyer, said the interim order of forfeiture was a welcome development that would facilitate the fight against corruption in the country.
He said that it will make it easier to trace looters of public funds through the BVN’s of the accounts they wire money to before cash withdrawals are made as practiced in more developed climes.
“The interim order of forfeiture would help sanitise the system, and make it easier to track and arrest past and serving governors, ministers, and legislators who loot our collective treasury dry’’ he said.
On his part, Jide Oyekunle, a media practitioner, also said: “it is a positive development in the sense that it will checkmate the use of proxies and fake identities to loot public funds.
“The question we should be asking ourselves is ‘how many suspicious bank accounts and monies are we going to see people coming out to claim before the order is fully implemented?’ because that is what is going to be happening in the coming days,” he added.