Court Orders Banks To Freeze Suspected Drug Barons’ Accounts
A Lagos Federal High Court, has ordered Zenith Bank Plc and United Bank for Africa, UBA, to place a lien, also known as Post No Debit (PND) on the accounts of two suspected drug barons, Basil Okafor Onochie (SIR) and Okwuchukwu Edwin Izuchukwu.
Justice Tijjani Ringim, who presided over the court, issued the directive to the two banks, while granting a motion Exparte marked FHC/L/CS/694/2022, for such orders, by the anti-narcotic agency, the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA).
Apart from ordering placing liens on the said accounts, Justice Ringim also directed the two bank to allow the NDLEA to inspect and make Certified True Copies (CTC) of Account Opening Packages, Statements of accounts and any relevant documents in their custody in compliance with section 84 of the Evidence Act 2014, for purposes of investigation.
NDLEA had approached the court for the orders, through its counsel, Barrister Umar Hussaini, pursuant to sections 6(6) B, 44(1) and (2)(K) of the constitution of the federal republic of Nigeria 1999, (as amended), sections 41 and 42(2) of the NDLEA Act Cap. N30 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004 (As amended); Section 13(1) FHC Act 2004, Order 26(6-10); 28(1)and(2) and 30(A) of the Federal High Court Civil Procedure Rules 2019 and under the Court’s inherent jurisdisction.
NDLEA lawyer, Umar when moving the Exparte application, asked the court to order Zenith Bank to freeze account numbers: 1001203139, 1010359483 belonging to Onochie and his company, Optional Business Bureau Limited, and account number: 1001464228 belonging to Okwuchukwu Edwin Izuchukwu.
He also asked the court to direct UBA Plc to place a lien on account numbers: 1008374573 belonging to Onochie.
He said the order sought for is for the period of 90 days, which the agency would have concluded it’s Investigation.
Justice Ringim after listened to the submissions of the counsel and perused all the processes before her said: “I have carefully perused the motion Exparte, supported with 18 paragraphs affidavit, Written address and exhibits attached.
“I’m of the firm view and satisfied that the orders sought for deserved to be granted and same are accordingly granted.”
NDLEA in an affidavit in support of the Summons Exparte, deposed to by Kareem Olayinka Musibau, an Investigating Narcotic Officer, stated that on March 28, 2022, the NDLEA Operatives arrested both Onochie and Izuchukwu, at 26, Akpomuje Street, Isolo-Okota Area of Lagos State, in connection with the seizures Of 2.169 kilograms of Heroin.
He stated that both Onochie and Izuchukwu are prominent transnational drug traffickers across the world and that following their arrest, the NDLEA is now investigating the level of their involvement in respect of the seizures of the hard drugs made on March 28, 2022, at their above stated address.
The deponet further stated that in the course of investigation, the NDLEA discovered the stated bank accounts, being used by both Onochie and Izuchukwu to launder the proceeds from their illicit drug dealings and that they both admitted the commission of the said offence in their respective written statements.
He stated that it has become necessary for the NDLEA to freeze the accounts temporarily pending the final investigation of this case.
He also avered that it would be expedient and for the court to place a Post No Debit status on the said account numbers, domiciled with Zenith Bank Plc and UBA Plc, operated by both Onochie and Izuchukwu.
The deponet also stated that order of the court is necessary to require the Zenith Bank and UBA Plc, to give the NDLEA access to inspect and make certified true copies of statement of accounts in compliance with section 84 of the Evidence Act 2011, copies of all the account opening decuments and other relevant documents in respect of the accounts aforementioned to enable the applicant conduct and complete investigation in this case.
He averred that the order of the court is urgently required to carry out this of investigations and that no one will be prejudiced by the grant of the application, as it was in the interest of justice to grant the order sought for.