Indications emerged, weekend, that banks operating in the country may shut down operations nation wide in protest over the continued detention of key officers of about 18 banks by the Department of State Services over allegation of money laundering.
The arrest and detention of the officers was generating panic in banking quarters following over two weeks arrest and detention without charges brought against the concerned bankers.
Senior personnel of 18 Nigerian banks have been languishing in detention in the holding facility of the Department of State Services for almost two weeks over allegations of terrorist financing and money laundering alleged by government functionaries to have been perpetrated by Aminu Suleiman Lamido, son of Jigawa State Governor, Alhaji Sule Lamido.
Aminu and his brother, Mustapha Lamido were arrested by Economic and financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, over an alleged N10 billion fraud.
They were arrested in Kano and flown to Abuja and have since been under interrogation at the Commission’s headquarters.
The banks whose staff have been picked up are Fidelity Bank Plc, First City Monument Bank Plc, FCMB, Wema Bank Plc, Access Bank Plc, Skye Bank Plc, First Bank Nigeria Limited, FBN, Sterling Bank Plc, Diamond Bank Plc, Zenith Bank Plc, Unity Bank Plc, Ecobank Plc, Guaranty Trust Bank Plc, GTBank, and Citibank. The DSS, it was learnt, which has been on the trail of Aminu Lamido, had sought an ex parte motion from the Federal High Court, Abuja, to freeze the accounts, in 13 banks, of Adold Engineering Company Limited, believed to be owned by the governor’s son.
The ex parte motion was granted by Justice A.F.A Ademola on November 6, 2013.
The fear of the banks, it was gathered, was that the DSS had no capacity to analyse information sent daily to CBN and EFCC related to money laundering.
They argue that banks on daily basis send report on suspected money laundering activities to the CBN and the EFCC.
“An order is hereby made freezing the accounts of the underlisted corporate body and financial institutions in the banks (1st 14th respondents) indicated against their names for their suspected involvement with acts of terrorists= financing and money laundering.
“An order is hereby made compelling the 2nd to 14th respondents (the banks) in this case to deliver up and furnish the State Security Service/applicant in this case with the respective bank statements and mandate cards of the 1st (Adold Engineering) and 2nd respondents (Fidelity Bank) in this case.
“An order of the Honourable Court is hereby made keeping the above listed accounts frozen until the conclusion of investigations. The ex parte order of the court made is to last for one month from date of service on the respondents with liberty to party(ies) to comply to this court as they deem fit within the said period.”
A bank chief Executive said that in some of the above banks, the chief inspectors were picked.
According to the bank executive who do not want his name in print, last week in one of the banks the Department of State Security officials visited the head office under the guise of inviting the officials to their Lagos office, but unknown to them they were flown in military aircraft to Abuja. Since then no one has been allowed access to the officials.
In one of the first generation banks an Executive Director was picked. Among those being detained by the Department of State Security are Bank Treasurers, head of Information Technology and other key officers whose day to day activities in the banks are key to the operations of banks. The absence of such key officers is causing the banks a lot. [Vanguard]