Musicians Disrupt Activities at Access Bank over Withheld Funds
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 bank … Return 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.”
“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.
“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.
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.