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Court Freezes 45 Nigerian Bank Accounts For ‘Illegal’ Rice Smuggling

A Federal High Court on Monday, October 14th in Abuja ordered the temporary freezing of 45 bank accounts belonging to three companies allegedly involved in smuggling of rice into Nigeria.

The companies having accounts with 10 commercial banks in the country are Sun Sam A1 International Limited, Sun Sam International Limited and Sunchrist O. Trans Nigeria Limited.

Justice Ahmed Mohammed of the high court directed First Bank of Nigeria, Stanbic IBTC Bank, Union Bank, United Bank for Africa (UBA), Zenith Bank, Sterling Bank, Access Bank, First City Monument Bank (FCMB), Polaris Bank and Eco Bank to freeze all transactions of the firms for 45 days, pending the outcome of the investigation and inquiry being conducted by the Central Bank of Nigeria.

Ruling on an ex parte application by CBN’s counsel, Nosike Nicholas, to freeze the accounts for 90 days, Mohammed granted only 45 days. He said the order of freezing for 45 days was subject to renewal for further days upon an application by the CBN in the event that its investigation could not be concluded within the first 45 days.

According to the CBN, transactions under the accounts could cause significant financial loss to Nigeria’s rice industries in particular and its economy in general. The case was adjourned until December 12 for further hearing.

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