Pilot Law

BVN: FG’s decision over money forfeiture in order


Abdulfatah Aiyelabegan is the principal of Aiyes Chambers, based in Ilorin, the Kwara State capital. In this interview with KAYODE ADEOTI, he expresses support for the Federal Government decision to freeze bank accounts of Nigerians that are yet to link their accounts to Biometric Verification Number (BVN) among other issues. Excerpts

Some members of the public has complained over the order sought by the Federal Government through the office of the Attorney General and Minister of Justice for account holders to forfeit temporarily, money in their accounts that are not linked to BVN in 14days, how do you see this in law context ?

Whatever anyone says concerning the issue of BVN can’t stand because it was a policy of the Federal Government which has been in place since 2014. And it’s funny now to realise that some people did not follow the directive of the government that says all bank accounts should be linked to the BVN, we don’t expect the government to sit back and be watching, the law will take its course. Anyone operating account without BVN, and there is money in that account, such money will be forfeited. The issue is that, you must have BVN, everyone is aware of that and there is no ignorance in law.

Given the time frame, would say it is too short?

It is very easy, once a person goes to the bank, he could make the request, it will be given within a short time. Except someone wants to make a sabotage. It is not a difficult exercise, it won’t take long time to do that. Look at the time government has been clamouring that everyone should endeavour to do it. Lots of people waved it off, it is a simple compliance that could have saved a lots of strength, time and money.

But what about persons like inmates who has been in detection since the time the directive was made and till now?

That was why it is a temporary forfeiture, an inmate can always claim his money at any time, there is no issue about that. Whenever they are out of prison, let them do affidavit and state the reason hindering them from complying to the directive. Affidavit is evidence on it own. The inmate will state in it that he was in prison from particular time and that he is aware but was not allowed to come out. The court will surely listen to that.

Members of the public have over time blamed government for not diverting billions of naira recovered into the economy, what is your take on this?

It’s quite unfortunate, people are too much in a hurry. Government can’t just begin spending the money, investigations are still on going on it. We have to be mindful of the fact some of these money are exhibits that cannot be touched until court complete process on it. That is why the National Assembly is trying to see if the EFCC can grant forfeiture till when the case finishes in court. The creation of special courts is also helping matters. Lawyers don’t just go to any court but on purposes based on the nature of the case they have at hand.

What Will you say concerning the allegation that Attorney General of the federation is inexperienced for the position?

It’s absurd to say that, look at the time he was called to bar and he’s equally a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN). What advice has he given that is not good?

Nigerians want to know what becomes of the report of the investigation conducted on SGF and NIA Director…?

It’s a very big issue and it’s equally a criminal case, you have to be patient. We cannot just conclude such matter within weeks, we need to learn to be patient. Matters that require investigation don’t just get concluded like that. The law must take its course and due process must be followed.

Who told you they’ve finished investigation? When you make an allegation, enough facts must follow it, that is why you see some cases being trashed out in court for lack of facts that must be backed with evidence, if the two did not go together, it will be dismissed.

But, we learnt the committee headed by the Vice President constituted to look into issue has submitted its report to the NASS…?

If they’ve submitted the report, maybe it’s a volume, they will have to break it into summary form, and there is a lot we don’t know about this issue because we are not there, that is why we need to be careful about what forms our opinion. It is not easy to run a government, one cannot just make an allegation frivolously. I will only advice that they should continue working and be speedy about it. The issue of SGF can either be political and I believe when the right time comes, everyone will hear about how far they’ve gone with the investigation.

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