Banking activities were paralysed yesterday in Akure, the Ondo State capital as all the banks in the metropolis shut their doors in protest against the high spate of armed robberies in recent weeks.
Hundreds of customers who were locked out by the banks expressed concern about the development which began two weeks ago following the bloody invasion by bandits of the Akure branch of a new generation bank during which four persons, including a security guard, were shot dead.
Some of the customers who spoke with The Guardian, appealed to security agencies to show commitment to their duties.
Although most of the banks were still operating skeletal services, last week’s robbery attack on a first generation bank in the hilly town of Idanre during which an unspecified amount of money was carted away by the hoodlums, seems to have tasked the patience of the bank workers.
It was gathered that several appeals to the bank operators by the state government and assurances by the state Commissioner of Police, Sanni Mogaji, that his men would provide adequate security, could not sway the bankers.
While reacting to the development, the state government appealed to the banks to resume operations with a pledge that it would continue its “massive investment in maintenance and sustenance of internal security next year by acquiring Close Circuit Television for community surveillance.”
At a meeting with bank operators yesterday where the state governor was represented by the Commissioner of Finance, Yele Ogundipe, the government said this is a step forward in its fight against armed banditry after the acquisition of five new Armoured Personnel Carriers (APC) to boost internal security network.
Disclosing that government would acquire more APCs, Ogundipe said: “The state government is seriously concerned about the safety of lives and property of its citizenry as well as the financial institutions in the state. We cannot fold our arms watching our people living in fear of attacks by criminals. That is why we won’t leave any stone unturned in making the state a no-go area for them.
“I want to assure you that the state government will invest massively in the strengthening of our internal security. When we unfold next year’s budget, we are going to acquire CCTVs and install in our towns to monitor movements to know who is coming in and going out. Also, we will install other devices which ordinary eyes cannot see to further secure lives and property.”
In his contribution, Magaji assured the bankers that the new anti-robbery operational system of the command will in addition to the APCs go a long way in curbing armed banditry in the state during this Yuletide and beyond.
Responding, Chairman of Bank Managers Forum, Ondo State, Mr Remi Faola appealed to the people not to regard the banks cautionary step as a punitive action, but as a measure against any unexpected negative occurrence.
By Niyi Bello, Akure
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