[ICYMI] Tsoho explains Federal High Court roles in #EndSARS’ promoters account freeze
The Chief Judge of the Federal High Court, Justice John Tsoho, on Tuesday, said that contrary to the belief in some quarters that the court intentionally froze the accounts of #EndSARS promoters, it only played its part as an interpreter of the law.
He said the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) had approached the court seeking an order to freeze certain accounts of corporate bodies and individuals.
Justice Tsoho, speaking during the opening of the 2020/2021 legal year in Abuja, said that three months before the #EndSARS protest, the CBN had approached the court seeking an order to freeze certain accounts of corporate bodies.
The CJ was reacting to the speech by the chairman of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), Olumide Akpata, represented on the occasion by Yusuf Kadiri.
Akpata had expressed disdain the role played by the court in freezing accounts of #EndSARS promoters.
“I must remind us of the dwindling hopes of the common man in the Judiciary. Following the #EndSARS protests, this Honourable court was in involved in the press, in a rather uncomplimentary manner on account of freezing of bank accounts of individuals and organisations believed to have bankrolled the process,” Akpata said.
Tsoho, in his reaction, said: “Three months before the protest, the CBN kept bringing applications almost in their hundreds based on what they call, deliberate resolve to ruin the economy through money laundering.
“So if it was the #EndSARS people that were involved in the activities undercover then, it is unfortunate for people to begin to call and vilify the court making damaging allegations against the court.
“If steps were not taken, the Nigerian economy would have collapsed, that is to say about three months ago, the dollar would have exchanged far above N500.”
Meanwhile, Justice Tsoho lamented that COVID-19 pandemic eroded policies of the Federal High Court in the last legal year, 2019/2020.
He said he would focus on enhancing effective administration of justice, the welfare of judges and staff and overall management of the court.
The CJ noted that despite the effect of COVID-19 pandemic, the court disposed of a total number 8,585 with 123, 513 cases pending out of 10, 464 cases filed, comprising 2,851 civil and 2, 599 criminal cases; and 1, 965 fundamental rights applications.
The Attorney-General of the Federation (AGF) and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami (SAN), noted in his speech that the judiciary had risen above the challenge of COVID-19 by developing virtual court proceedings.
This, he said was to ensure that the wheel of justice was kept in motion.
Malami, who was represented by Dayo Akpata, (SAN), the Solicitor General of the Federation, noted the need to maintain the use of ICT, particularly as the country seemed to be experiencing a second wave of the pandemic.
Speaking on the #EndSARS protests, on behalf of the Body of Senior Advocates of Nigeria (BOSAN), Joe-Kyari Gadzama (SAN) said, “It is worthwhile to consider that the attack on the Judiciary signals a general and growing disenchantment with the entire justice architecture. The man on the street is not particularly concerned with the caseload of the judge or magistrate, all he knows is that the system is sluggish.”