A Federal High Court, Lagos, on Friday, held that Diamond Bank Plc acted within the law when it complied with an Economic and Financial Crimes Commission(EFCC) directive placing ‘no debit order’ on the account of Lagos based property company, NGP Properties and Company.
Justice Muslim Hassan held this position while delivering judgement in a fundamental right enforcement suit instituted against the bank by the company.
The construction company had approached the Court, alleging that Diamond Bank violated its fundamental right to property as enshrined in the 1999 constitution as Amended and the African Charter on Peoples and Human right when it placed “a no debit order” on its account.
The applicant therefore asked the court for a declaration that the “post no debit order” placed on its account by Diamond Bank plc, amounted to a violation of its right as enshrined in the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999.
And that the “post no debit order ” placed on its account constituted a breach of its right to property as enshrined in the 1999 Constitution and in the African Charter on Human and peoples Right.
That the restriction order placed on the company’s account has resulted in loss of business and profit.
The applicant also sought for an order lifting the “post no debit order”, and a perpetual injunction restraining Diamond Bank from placing any obstacle in the operation of its account and the sum of N100 million as general damages.
The applicant, in its originating motion, averred that it maintains an account with the Olorunsogo branch of Diamond Bank and that sometimes in 2015, when it wanted to make a transaction on the account, he was told that he could not as the management of the bank has placed a ‘no debit order’ on the account.
The applicant added that there was no order of court empowering the bank to do so, and that the bank failed to follow due process in its action as no individual or organisation has the right to deny others of their properties except with court consent.
However, the bank in its defence stated that its action was precipitated by a directive from EFCC asking it to place restriction order on the account as the account was under investigation for various crimes.
The bank added further that it only carried out a lawful act by obeying a lawful directive from a government agency, and that it did not in any way violates the rights of the applicant.
However, Justice Hassan, while delivering judgement on the suit, held that there is no doubt that the applicant has the right to property under the constitution, but that the EFCC under the constitution has the power of investigation and that during such investigation, the anti-graft agency has the power to place a restriction on properties in questions.
The judge further held that Diamond Bank Plc acted lawfully and within the ambit of the law by obeying a directive of the anti-graft agency.
The court subsequently dismiss the claimant application against the bank
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