Gatefield Nigeria Ltd., a public affairs company, has sued Access Bank Plc, a Tier 1 Bank in Nigeria for N100 million, for illegally blocking its account used to promote media coverage of the #ENDSARS protests against police brutality in Nigeria.
The legal case filed by Gatefield against Access Bank in a federal court in Abuja, the capital, on Oct. 28, accused the bank of “unilaterally restricting” its account, Bloomberg reported.
According to Bloomberg, Gatefield said the account was used to raise funds to support independent Nigerian journalists that covered the #ENDASARS protests.
“As more people contributed to our efforts, we noticed that we could no longer conduct transactions on the dedicated account we used for this particular activity,” Bloomberg quoted Adewunmi Emoruwa, the lead strategist for Abuja-based Gatefield.
The lawsuit will test whether blocking Gatefield’s account without a court order was unlawful. There were other allegations by individuals and organizations on social media that their accounts were restricted during the protests for apparently similar reasons.
“A successful challenge at the court could make the difference for others who were likewise targeted,” Emoruwa said.
Gatefield was told by Access Bank that it was directed by the Central Bank of Nigeria to put restrictions on the account, implemented on Oct. 15, Emoruwa said. A spokesman for Access Bank said the lender doesn’t comment on its customers to third parties. A spokesman for the central bank didn’t respond to emails and calls seeking comment, the international news agency reported.
On Wednesday, The PUNCH reported that the Federal Government had begun a clampdown on promoters of #EndSARS protests by freezing their bank accounts and placing them on a “no-fly list.”
A Pharmacist, Bassey Israel, who was in charge of the #EndSARS medical team in Port Harcourt, said his account with Access Bank marked 003397XXXX had remained frozen since October 15. Bassey is one of several people who have reported about their accounts being frozen following the #ENDSARS protests, The Punch reported.
The Nigeria Immigration Service on Monday prevented a promoter of the #EndSARS movement, Modupe Odele, from traveling.
By; Ifunanya Ikueze
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