By Ruth Oginyi
The Ebony state Special Task Force on the coronavirus pandemic on Monday sealed the premises of First Bank Nigeria Plc, Afikpo in Afikpo North local government area of the state for allegedly violating safety protocols on COVID-19 in the state.
Recall that the David Umahi-led government had tightened up lockdown in the state following five positive Covid-19 test results last week. This was part of the effort to halt spread of the virus. The Covid-19 enforcement team reportedly stormed the premises of the bank which had a crowd of customers waiting for attention. The team members were said to have had a scuffle with the bank’s security personnel at the gate before they could seal the bank.
The chairman of Afikpo North local government area, Mr. Ogbonnaya Oko Enyim, who led the team, explained to Orient Daily that the action against the bank was because of its failure to comply with state government safety directives on Covid-19.
“Our taskforce team, this morning, visited banks in the local government to monitor the level of compliance. On arriving the Eke Market branch of First Bank of Nigeria, it was observed that none of the directives was adhered to. When the team made attempt to gain access to the bank, the security personnel at the bank did not allow the team access and all efforts made to speak with the management of the bank, fell on deaf ears”.
Enyim further explained that the local government, in a stakeholders meeting last week, directed all banks, restaurants, drinking joints and other businesses in Afikpo to adhere strictly to the state government safety protocols on preventive measures against the spread of the virus in the state.
In his words, “Before now, there had been several warnings for the bank to ensure that their customers wore facemasks and ensured social distancing while transacting their business but none of the warnings was taken into consideration by the bank; so the taskforce team, today, had to seal off the bank and stopped the bank. We made it mandatory today that we will not allow them to operate until they adhered strictly to all the preventive measures instructed by the government”.
According to him, when the team arrived the bank, it was observed that none of the preventive measures was put in place by the bank.
“It is very unfortunate and regrettable that despite the warnings of President Muhammadu Buhari and the governor of Ebonyi state for commercial centres to put in place and ensure strict adherence to preventive measures against the spread of coronavirus in the state, some of them decided to be clogs on the wheels of government progress”.
Corroborating the action and stance of the chairman and the state government task force on the sealing of the bank, the Development Center Coordinator of Afikpo North, Mrs Amauche Otunta, alleged that when the team tried to gain access into the bank, security personnel attached to the bank attacked them and tried to stop them from sealing the bank although the bank management later complied immediately the team spoke to them.
“The bank asked the crowd to leave and when the team went back to ascertain if they still complied, there was full compliance to all the measures. The measure was taken to serve as a lesson to others who refused to comply with the state government directives”.