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Court orders EFCC, UBA, Fidelity to pay Benue N100m damages

A Federal High Court sitting in Makurdi has ordered the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), United Bank of Africa (UBA) and Fidelity Bank to jointly pay the of sum of N100 million to the Benue State Government as damages for freezing its accounts last year.

Daily Trust reports that the EFCC had directed the freezing of the state accounts with UBA and Fidelity bank in August, 2018 on grounds that the governor’s security vote was under probe.

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But Justice Mobolaji Olajuwon, on Tuesday delivered judgement in favour of the suit number FHC/MKD/CS/46/2018 filed by the Benue State government which challenged the legality of the EFCC freezing its accounts.

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Olajuwon ruled that the anti-graft commission should pay the Benue State Government the sum of N50 million as damages, while UBA and Fidelity are to pay the sum of N25 million each.

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The judge averred that the Benue State government accounts that were frozen do not fall within the classes or categories of accounts liable to be frozen by the EFCC.

Olajuwon therefore declared the action of the EFCC as illegal, null and void, adding that the order issued by EFCC to the affected banks to freeze the state accounts was not earlier obtained from a federal high court.

The court also granted an order of perpetual injunction restraining EFCC from further freezing Benue state government accounts domiciled in financial institutions.

Reacting, the Benue State Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice, Michael Gusa described the judgement as sound, positing that the Ortom administration believes in the rule of law and due process and would not fail to challenge any act of illegality on the state.

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