Access Bank, Nigeria’s biggest lender, is accused of illegally blocking an account used to promote media coverage of protests against police brutality that recently swept Africa’s most populous country.
Gatefield Nigeria, a public affairs company, filed a case against Access Bank in a federal court in Abuja, the capital, on October 28, accusing the bank of “unilaterally restricting” its account and demanding damages of 100 million naira ($262,000), according o court documents.
The account was used to raise funds to support independent Nigerian journalists that covered nationwide demonstrations that lasted almost three weeks, according to the firm.
“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,” Adewunmi Emoruwa, the lead strategist for Abuja-based Gatefield, said.
The lawsuit will test whether blocking Gatefield’s account without a court order was unlawful. There were other allegations by individuals and organisations on social media that their accounts were restricted during he protests for apparently similar reasons.
“A successful challenge at the court could make the difference for others who were likewise targeted,” said Emoruwa.