Following the freezing of some bank accounts belonging to #EndSARS campaigners, Access Bank Plc. has heaped the blame on the Central Bank of Nigeria, saying it was compelled by the apex bank to suspend the protesters’ accounts.
Access Bank made a public statement about the matter after Nigerian youths, in solidarity with the anti-police brutality movement, threatened to boycott the bank. They accused the financial institution of colluding with the government to oppress and intimidate the protesters.
A hashtag, #BoycottAccessBank, even trended on Twitter over the weekend, which is believed to have rattled the management of the bank.
The CBN had directed Access Bank, Fidelity Bank, First Bank Nigeria, Guaranty Trust Bank, United Bank of Africa and Zenith Bank to freeze bank accounts of 19 individuals and a company on allegations of terrorism financing. The national bank also secured a court order to legalise the directive.
The individuals and company were part of many who backed the #EndSARS protests that was eventually hijacked by hoodlums allegedly hired by government proxies to discredit the protest, and it was escalated when the Nigerian Army opened fire on unarmed protesters on October 20, at the Lekki toll gate, Lagos, one of the main spots the protesters converged.
The statement by Access Bank reads in part, “We want to express our sympathy for the inconvenience that eight of our customers are going through due to the restrictions on their accounts as mandated by a federal court order. We are eager for this to be resolved as soon as possible, ”
Continuing; “It is common knowledge that we and the entire banking industry are regulated entities and therefore operate under the authority of our regulators and law enforcement agencies. As such we are compelled to comply with regulatory directives.
“While acknowledging the concern of all well-meaning parties, we urge that enquiries and views be channelled to the relevant regulatory and judicial agencies where the matter is receiving attention.
“It is therefore surprising that some individuals still choose to target Access Bank in a negative manner despite not being the source of the action.”
Meanwhile, the Nigerian Army has finally admitted that soldiers opened fire on protesters at Lekki toll gate but claimed that the soldiers only fired blank bullets not live rounds, which conflicts with the words of Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu who later admitted that two people died in the incident, as he also visited many other casualties who sustained gunshot wounds in the hospital.
The Army also said Sanwo-Olu invited the military to intervene in the heated protests but the Governor had claimed he had no knowledge of the soldiers’ activities.
Recall that the Nigerian army had tagged several reports claiming soldiers shot at unarmed protesters at Lekki toll gate as ‘Fake News’ and boldly claimed that soldiers were not present at the location.
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