Nigeria's House of Representatives Committee on Public Petitions has directed six commercial banks to unfreeze accounts operated by former first lady, Patience Jonathan.
The committee took the stance after Tuesday's hearing on a petition by Jonathan. The affected banks are Union Bank, First Bank, EcoBank, Diamond Bank, Fidelity Bank and Skye Bank.
The banks had been directed by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) to freeze the accounts over allegations of some irregularities over the sources of the funds.
Officials of Union Bank, led by a lawyer, Mr Kenneth Otowo, had told the panel that the bank placed Mrs Jonathan’s account under a "precautionary restriction’ following a directive by the EFCC.
"We received a communication from EFCC to put a precautionary restriction on the account. The letter was dated March 21, 2016, so we had to act based on that" he said.
But, the committee, chaired by Rep. Uzoma Nkem-Abonta (Abia-PDP), said the bank could only take such decision if EFCC proved that it had obtained a court order to that effect.
He said,“Until EFCC proves otherwise, I'll ask you to remove the precautionary restriction on the account. Let me tell you, whatever you’ll do, you must follow the law. A bank can't hold a legal entity to ransom.
"I want to order all other banks that all the accounts that have no specific pending order from the courts, please release them"