Access Bank Denies Closing Over 300 Branches, Sacking Staff

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By Modupe Gbadeyanka

Tier-one lender, Access Bank Plc, has said reports making the rounds that it has closed over 300 branches across the country as untrue.

In a statement signed by the Company Secretary, Mr Sunday Ekwochi, the bank also said media reports that it was downsizing its workforce by 75 percent are totally false.

The financial institution said the closure of a bank branch in the country requires the approval of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), stressing that it has not approached the CBN for such.

“The bank has not applied for nor obtained the approval of the Central Bank of Nigeria for the closure of any of its branches as widely speculated. The bank has only suspended operations in some branches following the directive by the CBN,” the statement explained.

Explaining further, Access Bank said at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic lockdown, it suspended in-branch operations at different locations as directed by the CBN and in line with business continuity plans at vulnerable spots, it provided financial services through its alternative digital platforms.

“Beyond complying with the regulatory directive, this action was taken to ensure the health and safety of our customers and employees,” it said.

It further stated that, “In line with the phased re-opening of the economy effective May 4, 2020, following the presidential directive, we will be resuming in-branch services in some of our affected branches in a programmed manner to ensure the health and safety of our employees and customers. This is also necessary to provide relevant contingency should there be any incident arising from the pandemic.”

“We recognise that the threat of the COVID-19 pandemic is still out there and whilst we will do all that is required to ensure the safety of all our branches in line with the protocol advised by the health authorities, we urge our customers to leverage more of our digital channels for their transactions. We have made significant investment to ensure their availability throughout this period and beyond,” the statement said.

While commenting on the rumoured downsizing of its workforce, Access Bank stressed that, “We deny in its entirety the baseless and twisted speculation that the bank is sacking 75 percent of its workforce.

“This is malicious and a distraction from a genuine and compassionate plan to protect our staff and help keep jobs in the unfolding macroeconomic environment.”

“We state that based on the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, we do not expect that all our branches will be fully opened for in-branch services until later in the year. This has made it impossible for many of our outsourced workers to perform their duties as usual,” it added.

Access Bank stated that, “Based on the above-mentioned circumstances, we have commenced engagement with various stakeholders with a view to ensuring that they provide the relevant services and optimum manpower as may be required by the Bank on an on-going basis.”

“As we navigate the new normal occasioned by the COVID-19 pandemic, we wish to assure all our esteemed stakeholders that in our traditional manner the Bank will continue to ensure that its actions and decisions are guided by fairness, justice, equity and good conscience,” the statement concluded.

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