The Federal High Court in Abuja has declared that magistrate courts lacked the power to issue an order freezing bank accounts.
The court also ordered banks to desist from acting on “bankers order” served on them, particularly by the police, to freeze or place a post-no-debit order accounts on personal accounts.
Justice Inyang Ekwo made the declaration in a judgment in a suit on Tuesday.
The suit was instituted by five children of the late Chief E. A. Esiso against one of their siblings, Yoma Esiso, four banks which had frozen their bank accounts, the Inspector-General of Police and the Commissioner of Police in charge of the IGP Monitoring Unit.
The five siblings who were the plaintiffs who instituted the suit are Mrs Eunice Oddiri, Beauty Ogbodu, Chief Sunny Esiso, Edirin Esiso, and Mrs Emuobosa Consin.
They stated in their suit that in September 2019 one of the landed assets of their late father in Port Harcourt, Rivers State, was sold and the proceeds were shared among the deceased’s children, including Yoma.
The plaintiffs were later released on bail but realized that their accounts had been frozen by their various banks which claimed to have received letters authorizing them to so do from the office of the Inspector General of Police and the Commissioner of the Police in charge of the IGP Monitoring Unit.
The banks said the letters from the IGP office were accompanied with a document called a Bankers Order from a magistrates’ court, ordering the freezing/post no debit on the accounts.
The plaintiffs on December 24, 2019 sued their banks – Zenith Bank Plc, Stanbic IBTC Bank, Guarantee Trust Bank and First Bank Place – along with the IGP, the IGP Monitoring Unit, and Yoma.