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Customers’ Attacks: Banks Shut Branches, Operations

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By The Punch

With the heightened tension accompanying the protracted naira scarcity in the country, some commercial banks on Tuesday directed some of their branches to shut down operations until further notice.

Findings by our correspondent revealed that some bank branches in certain parts of Lagos with no cash to pay customers were asked to shut down operations.

The directive, it was gathered, was to forestall possible violent reactions by frustrated customers who had already begun to take laws into their hands in some parts of the country.

A senior official at Sterling Bank, who declined to be named, confirmed to our correspondent that some of the bank’s branches in the Lekki area of Lagos had been closed on Tuesday.

The source said, “They opened but were asked to shut down. All branches without cash were asked to shut down. Non-essential staff have been ordered to resume remote work mode.”

The source further stated that the closure of some of the banks had become necessary due to the untenable attitude of frustrated customers who believe that commercial banks are to blame for the hardship associated with the current naira scarcity.

“Imagine a situation where some customers come to the bank with cane. They say they want to flog the bank staff. Because of certain reports in the media that EFCC have arrested some bank managers for hoarding cash, customers now think banks are the cause of the naira scarcity. This is not true,” the source further stated.

However, an emailed response from Sterling Bank read in part, “Kindly be informed that there is no memo ordering Sterling staff to work from home. All of our branches and offices are open and functioning optimally. While non-essential staff have been given the option to tap into the existing hybrid work policy (for staff members not required on-premises) due to concerns about an imminent strike by petroleum operators, essential staff are present and working on-premises during working hours to ensure the bank’s operations run smoothly.

“There have also been challenges experienced by staff in commuting to and from work due to petrol scarcity and the resultant difficulties in getting fuel. This is coupled with the growing general level of unrest in some parts of the country.

“We are pleased to inform you that all Sterling locations across the nation have the compliments of her essential staff on premises during working hours and are fully operational at this time. The bank is closely monitoring the situation and will take any necessary measures in the interest of the safety of staff, customers and the general public.”

In a similar development, our correspondent gathered that First Bank Nigeria had directed some of its branches not to open until further direction is communicated.

A source, who confirmed the development to our correspondent, said some of the bank’s branches deemed vulnerable to violent demonstrations by customers had been directed to shut down operations, while other branches that did not have the cash to pay customers were also asked to shut down.

A memo titled ‘Temporary Closure of our LASPOTECH branch, Lagos State,’ sent to the bank’s LASPOTECH branch in Lagos read, “Dear Colleagues, Following security advisory, please be informed that LASPOTECH branch in Lagos State is temporarily closed for business today Tuesday, 7 February 2023.”

Banks in Ojodu Berger and Isheri road shut down operations on Tuesday following a cash crunch that continues in the country’s financial sector.

According to the findings by The PUNCH, the Zenith Bank, opposite Ojodu Mall, had the premises closed for operation as bank customers were prevented from entering by the securities of the lending bank.

Similarly at the Guaranty Trust Bank, located at Bashiru Street, Ojodu Berger, our correspondent reported that the bank was shut down and the ATMs did not work.

However, at the Access Bank just opposite Oremeta street, Ojodu Berger, customers were allowed entrance but one of the stranded customers who spoke with The PUNCH said there was no over-the-counter-payment at the banking hall. Also, the branch of the bank at Isheri road had no cash and ATMs did not dispense as of the time of filing this report.

When our correspondent visited Union Bank on the same street, customers were allowed entrance but only a maximum of N3000 was allowed to be withdrawn through the over-the-counter-payment system.

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Cyril Ramaphosa Re-elected As South African President

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The South African Parliament has, during its first sitting of the 7th Parliament on Friday, re-elected Mr. Cyril Ramaphosa as the President of the Republic of South Africa. He has been re-elected to serve a second term as the President.

Thia was hours after his African National Congress and the Democratic Alliance (DA) agreed to form a coalition, setting aside their rivalry in a historic governance pact.

In terms of the Constitution, the National Assembly must, at its first sitting after its election, elect a woman or a man from among its members to be the President.

Mr. Ramaphosa was elected with 283 votes against Mr Julius Malema with 44 votes. The Constitution states that when elected President, a person ceases to be a member of the National Assembly and, within five days, must assume office by swearing or affirming faithfulness to the Republic and obedience to the Constitution.

The President-elect will be inaugurated during a ceremony in Pretoria which, according to the Constitution, should take place within five days after the President’s election.

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Finidi George Resigns As Super Eagles Coach

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Newly appointed Super Eagles coach, Finidi George, has resigned his appointment,  according to a post by ex-Super Eagles media officer, Toyin Ibitoye on X.com on Saturday.

He wrote, “News just in. Finidi George #FinidiGeorge_FG has resigned from his #NGSuperEagles manager position.”

The resignation follows the Nigeria Football Federation’s (NFF) decision to appoint a foreign coach to oversee him, despite his recent appointment in May.

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Appeal Court Insists Amaewhule, 26 Others Not Members of Rivers House of Assembly

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The Court of Appeal in Abuja, on Friday, refused to set aside a judgment ordering the removal of Martins Chike Amaewhule and 26 others as members of the Rivers State House of Assembly.

Justice Charles Wali of the Rivers State High Court, Port Harcourt, on May 30 declared the seats of the 27 lawmakers who dumped the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to the All Progressives Congress (APC) in October last year vacant.

The judge, who delivered the ruling in a suit filed by the Speaker of the Assembly, Victor Oko Jumbo, and two others, also restrained Amaewhule from parading himself as Speaker of the Assembly.

Dissatisfied with the verdict, the aggrieved lawmakers approached the appellate court to set it aside.

However, at a virtual hearing of the matter on Friday, a three-member panel of the appellate court declared that the reversal of the lower court ruling would amount to pre-judging the appeal currently before it.

The panel, thereafter, fixed June 20 for the hearing of the appeal filed by the lawmakers in their quest to regain their seats in the Assembly.

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