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Musicians Disrupt Activities at Access Bank over Withheld Funds

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Musicians Access Bank Opebi

By Dipo Olowookere

Business activities at the Access Bank branch on Opebi Road, Ikeja, Lagos were disrupted on Monday by some aggrieved Nigerian musicians, who are demanding the release of their funds allegedly withheld by the financial institutions for about four years.

The music acts led by the former president of the Performing Musicians Association of Nigeria (PMAN), Mr Tony Okoroji, said they want the management of the bank to release the money to them without any further delay.

The action of the protesters attracted some passers-by, while some customers of the company had a slight difficulty in carrying out their financial transactions because of the distractions.

It was gathered that some of the musicians carried placards with various descriptions, including Access Bank… Ole bankReturn Our Money Now! Access Bank… Respect Court Orders … Return Musicians’ Money Today! Access Bank, 419 Bank, Release Musicians’ Money Now!!! Is Access Bank Broke? Why Are They Seizing Customers’ Money? Pay Us Our Money Today! East, West, North & South, Musicians Will Take On Access Bank. Release Musicians’ Money Today!!! etc.

While addressing newsmen, Mr Okoroji, who is the Chairman of the Copyright Society of Nigeria (COSON), described the situation as “crazy,” saying his members have been “patient with Access Bank.”

Musicians Access Bank Opebi1

“They seem to have a corporate culture of never keeping to their word. You have meetings with them, reach agreements, by the time you leave, the agreements have changed,” he alleged.

He stated further that, “For almost four years, for no justifiable reason, they have traded with the money belonging to their customer at no cost and inflicted untold hardship on our members, their loyal customers.

“Two Federal High Court judges have delivered clear judgments requiring Access Bank to release the funds of their customer who has not borrowed any money from them and is not owing them one naira and they have chosen to disobey the orders of the court.

“Rather than pay us our money, they use our money to hire expensive lawyers who come to court, file incoherent motions and make juvenile arguments to hold on tenaciously to money belonging to an Access Bank customer.

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“They acquire luxury estates in Banana Island and their customers whose funds they have brazenly ceased, die in penury. This is what banking seems to have turned into in Nigeria and many Nigerians are going through this hell.

“Can you imagine that a member of the Access Bank staff told me that they can use court processes to hold us down for 25 years and that by the time they are done, our money will no longer have any value and most of the people who are involved would have died?

“Somebody should tell Access Bank that we are not playing their game anymore! We are not going to wait for 25 years. We will not wait for 25 months or 25 weeks or 25 days. This appears to be what they do to many of their innocent customers. They kill them and get away with it. It has now become a culture. People should tell them that they have now taken on the wrong guys. They will not get away with it with the musicians of Nigeria. We want our money now.

“For close to four years, they played the music and we danced. Now, we will play the music and they will dance. They want to turn the court of justice into the court of injustice and make the Nigerian people a laughing stock. It will not work with us. If they want peace, we will give them peace but if they want war, they will experience war without end.

“We will make the movie and they will watch. We will keep them awake all day and all night and even if they ever close their eyes, they will keep seeing us in their dreams, enough of all this nonsense going on in Nigeria!” he fumed.

Musicians Access Bank Opebi3

It will be recalled that Justice Yellin S. Bogoro of the Federal High Court, Lagos, in a judgment ordered Access Bank Plc to immediately unfreeze the bank accounts of COSON at the bank. It was also directed to pay COSON N70 million in damages.

Business Post reached out to Access Bank through one of its spokesmen, Mr Abdul Imoyo, who said the lender has appealed the judgement of the high court at an appellate court.

Dipo Olowookere is a journalist based in Nigeria that has passion for reporting business news stories. At his leisure time, he watches football and supports 3SC of Ibadan. Mr Olowookere can be reached via dipo.olowookere@businesspost.ng

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Banking

Unity Bank, Lagos Food Bank Address Hunger, Malnutrition

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Unity Bank Lagos Food Bank

By Aduragbemi Omiyale

Food items worth millions of Naira have been donated to Ogundimu Ilaje, a riverine community in the suburb of Lagos, by Unity Bank Plc and Lagos Food Bank.

No fewer than 150 cartons of food items tagged Unity Box of Hope were distributed to hundreds of households in the underserved community.

The gesture is a collaborative initiative to support and promote interventions addressing hunger and malnutrition in communities.

It is also part of the strategic Corporate Social Responsibilities (CSRs) of Unity Bank aimed at sustaining the improvement of health and social well-being of communities it operates.

The lender, in a statement, further said it supported the programme because its goals align with the Lagos Food Bank Initiative, a non-profit organisation committed to providing welfare programmes to indigent people.

The donation comes on the heels of the worsening economic situation in the country, especially with the soaring food inflation at 23.12 per cent as of August 2022, which has alleviated hunger in many households.

Addressing the beneficiaries at the venue of food distribution, Mr Hillary Oguebo, Unity Bank’s Head, Corporate Resources, said the bank, as an agric-focused financial institution, was fulfilling its core mandate in line with Bank’s drive for food security, adding that the Bank is pleased to donate the food items to the community to help ameliorate the impact of the rising cost of food on them.

“Unity Bank has a financing business model that is principally anchored, amongst others, on boosting agricultural production, and it is also useful for those who have not benefitted from the bank’s Agric financing package to receive direct food intervention as it is being done today.

“Due to a lot of factors, especially growing insecurity, food production has been impacted severely, leading to historical food inflation. That has left many households struggling and battling hunger. So, this is a thoughtful gesture that we hope to sustain to reach as many Nigerians who deserve this form of intervention at this critical period,” he stated.

With a score of 28.3, the Global Hunger Index ranks Nigeria 103rd out of 116 and classifies the country’s hunger level as serious. This is a result of the country’s growing food insecurity, which has risen to more than 80 per cent from less than 20 per cent about three decades ago.

Unity Bank has led some of the most important critical interventions in the agric sector in Nigeria in the recent past and boasts significant investment in the Agric sector over the past six years and a track record of financing smallholder farmers that spur food production through the Anchor Borrowers’ Programme of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).

Through a CSR initiative that feeds households in underserved communities, the Bank is redefining CSR through strategic interventions that align perfectly with its business model.

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Banking

FCCPC Records Decline in Complaints from Customers of Digital Loan Sharks

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customers of digital loan sharks

By Adedapo Adesanya

The Federal Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (FCCPC) says it has recorded a significant reduction in the number of consumer complaints regarding illegal digital money lending activities.

Mr Babatunde Irukera, the Executive Vice Chairman of the commission, said this in a statement via the agency’s Twitter handle on Wednesday.

Mr Irukera attributed the reduction in complaints from customers of digital loan sharks to the enforcement embarked on by the FCCPC joint taskforce.

“I agree that some activities of digital money lending institutions have destroyed relationships, whether professional or personal, and that is why we are doing all we can.

“I will be the first person to agree that there is a problem out there.

“Messages are still coming, harassment is still coming, but frankly, we have been tracking this for a while,” he added.

The FCCPC boss said that the complaints were the lowest recorded in the last two years, following several enforcements embarked by the commission.

“This is the lowest it has been in two years. From March, when we started this enforcement, there has been a significant reduction.

“I will say that after our enforcement last month, we counted probably less than 25 per cent looking at the tracking of the complaints that came in.

“But 25 per cent is not it, we will keep doing what we are doing, even adding more,” Mr Irukera said.

He said that the task force would continue to set the guard rails and make the loan shark businesses difficult.

“Wherever we find their bank accounts, we lock it down, whatever applications they are using, we go to google, we take them down,’’ Mr Irukera said.

He said that in pursuant to the order of the commission, Google had taken down over 70 applications, and the FCCPC had locked out over 60 bank accounts.

The executive vice chairman said Flutterwave had also taken down a dozen applications.

Mr Irukera appealed to members of the public to send their complaints relating to illegal money lending activities to lenderstaskforce@fccpc.gov.ng.

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Banking

Nigeria Can Solve FX Crisis With Adequate Agricultural Financing—Heritage Bank

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George Oko-Oboh adequate agricultural financing

By Modupe Gbadeyanka

The foreign exchange (FX) crisis that is putting pressure on the Nigerian Naira, making the prices of goods and services rise in the country, can be solved if attention is paid to agricultural financing, Heritage Bank Plc has submitted.

The lender, through one of its executive directors, Mr George Oko-Oboh, pointed out that if players in the agricultural sector are supported with funds, they will produce crops that can be exported and generate forex for the country, making the domestic currency stronger at the currency market.

At the 15th Annual Banking and Finance Conference of the Chartered Institute of Bankers of Nigeria (CIBN) in Abuja, he noted that adequate agricultural financing was critical in defining the country’s trade competitiveness, which guarantees sustainable agricultural systems. This critical aspect equips the financial sector to respond to changing market requirements and address critical sector needs for global competitiveness.

He disclosed at the programme tagged Repositioning the Financial Services Industry for an Evolving Global Context that Heritage Bank has been at the forefront of financing agric value chains that have upped its competitiveness in the global market and helped to boost local production, conserve scarce foreign exchange and enhance food security, and ultimately result in the creation of hundreds of new jobs.

According to Mr Oko-Oboh, the bank’s involvement in the sector dates back many years ago. It has always been at the forefront of ensuring the overall growth and development of commodities products in Nigeria. For these feats, Heritage Bank disbursed the N41 billion intervention of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) in wheat production in Nigeria for commodity associations and anchor companies.

“We have continued to create market linkages between smallholders’ farmers and anchors/processors, create an ecosystem that drives value chain financing, improves access to credit by the smallholders’ farmers by developing credit history through the scheme and many more.

“As a bank, we partnered CBN and other stakeholders such as wheat farmers association of Nigeria, wheat farmers, processors and marketers’ association of Nigeria, Lake Chad Research Institute and other development partners, flour mills of Nigeria and several seed companies and others to support over 100,000 farmers in wheat production.

“Also, Heritage Bank further factored consideration of value addition of financial services and products flowing to and/or through value chain participants to address and alleviate constraints to growth that have distorted product financing, receivables financing, physical-asset collateralization, risk mitigation products and financial enhancements,” said the executive director.

Also, the Chairman, Union Bank of Nigeria Plc, Mr Farouk Gumel, has said Nigerian banks must invest in modernising agriculture, helping it to be more resilient, more dynamic and better able to adapt for the banking sector to compete in the evolving global context favourably.

“Modernisation means much more than technology alone; it is also about farming techniques,” he said.

Mr Gumel noted “to reposition the industry for a ‘Glocal context, we also need to look more inwards,” saying repositioning is not an option. It is a necessity that Nigeria has begun an agricultural renaissance over the past seven years. To be truly Glocal, we must commit the same resources and investments to rural-local customers as we have done to urban global clients.”

He agreed that the local players must keep an eye on what global happenings to stay in tune with international best practices while asking that local/rural farmers should never be forgotten.

President/Chairman of the council for CIBN, Dr Ken Opara, said the financial services industry needs to adapt to a much faster pace of change in advancement in technology and innovation, saying services, products, and technologies that were new and useful in the past will not necessarily be so soon.

Mr Opara said advancement in technology and innovation is bringing about another wave of revolution that will change the landscape of the financial services sector more than ever.

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