Fresh facts have emerged that the embargo placed on the bank accounts of some leading supporters of the #ENDSARS protests was the result of an instruction from the Department of State Services (DSS).
THEWILL gathered authoritatively that it was the DSS which ordered the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to freeze the bank accounts of 19 persons and a firm found to be backing the protests.
The security service was also said to have directed the Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS) to stop several promoters of the protests from leaving or entering the country based on intelligence information that they were being used with or without their knowledge by both international and local conspirators to forcefully remove President Muhammadu Buhari from office.
Multiple sources familiar with knowledge of the development told THEWILL that DSS Director-General, Yusuf Bichi Magaji, who had been covertly monitoring the #ENDSARS protests advised the Presidency to immediate accede to the demands of the protesters because it got real-time intelligence that some unidentified persons had infiltrated them and wanted to use the protests to instigate the removal of the president from office.
THEWILL further gathered that in the heat of the riots and tension that rocked the country, the DSS invoked national security concerns and asked the Central Bank to freeze the bank accounts linked to some promoters of the protests because it believed they were being used to funnel cash to keep the protests going in order to sabotage the federal government.
The accounts frozen are domiciled in First Bank Nigeria, Zenith Bank Plc., Guaranty Trust Bank Plc., United Bank for Africa Plc. and Fidelity Bank Plc.
The DSS, according to our sources, also directed the Immigration Service to prevent some persons linked to the protests from leaving or entering the country without clearance from the agency as part of its investigations.
The directives as expected have been greeted with uproar by Nigeria’s often restive youths, who make up the bulk of the #ENDSARS protest.
“The freezing of the bank accounts of some persons with ties to the ENDSARS movement and their inability to travel is beyond the CBN and NIS. They were given direct orders by the Presidency in the name of national security and they must comply with such others. They cannot even debate such or ask questions over such. It is now beyond them and purely for the Intelligence agencies,” an intelligence source told THEWILL, on condition of anonymity.
The source added: “Let me also add that the CBN and the NIS cannot unilaterally lift these blockades even if they want to. They have no such discretion or powers. It is now way beyond them. I read the CBN went to court to secure an order to give it further legal backing and to probably protect the commercial banks from liabilities but the truth is that they do not even have to do that really.
“The Presidency has sweeping powers under National Security and any person or group that feels their rights have been infringed upon can go to court to seek redress. In most cases, the rulings by the court are based on evidence presented by the government.”
At least two persons who have been affected by the directive have sued. Bassey Israel, a Port Harcourt based pharmacist, who received donations for medical supplies through his Access Bank account has sued the bank, while Modupe Odele, who mobilized legal services for detained protesters, and had her international travel passport seized when she wanted to travel a few days ago, says she has sued the government.