“Control Your Customers or We Seal Up Your Premises,”Ebonyi COVID-19 Task force Tells Banks

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Edozie Udeojo-Enugu

The Ebonyi COVID-19 Committee saddled with the task of daily monitoring and implementation of the state government’s regulations has frowned at the crowd of customers that besieged bank premises. The committee vowed to seal banks found culpable of violating social distancing order in the state.

An official of the committee, choose to remain anonymous, issued the threat at the premises of the United Bank for Africa (UBA) Ogoja road branch on Monday in Abakaliki.

The official, who led other members of the COVID-19 committee to the bank, bemoaned the non-enforcement of social distancing order by officials of the bank, describing the development as a violation of the Ebonyi COVID-19 law 005.

The official, who was visibly furious at the large crowd of customers at the bank’s premises without observing any form of social distancing as recommended by government, threatened to report the incident to the appropriate authority for action.

He also threatened immediate sanction on those who were not wearing face masks for violating the state government’s directive that made wearing of face masks compulsory for anyone leaving their homes.

He urged them to consciously observe the social distancing order, safety guidelines and precautions to remain safe and alive.

In his words: “We will not hesitate to recommend the closure of any bank contravening any anti-COVID-19 law, restrictions and regulations.

“If I see this eyesore again, I will make a call and report the bank to the relevant authority and the bank will cease operations.

“Are we animals? Are we not hearing the several deaths being recorded as a result of the pandemic and why can’t we obey simple directives given by government for our own good?

“We must learn to obey government’s directives because they were given for our own safety.

“Look at how people are carrying money, do you know if this money is infected with the virus,?” he said.

The team, which later dispersed the crowd, urged the bank officials to ensure that the customers were made to observe social distancing to avoid the risk of people being infected.

Meanwhile, a visit to other banks revealed that there were congestions in the bank premises while customers jostled to gain access into the banking hall.

Some customers who spoke to NAN, expressed concerns on the lack of enforcement of the social distancing order at the banks to mitigate the risk of spreading the dreaded virus.

The customers said that with five confirmed cases of the virus in the state, institutions including banks that recorded high traffic of persons should ensure strict adherence to all recommended safety precautions to curb further spread of the virus.

Dr Ifeanyi Onwe, a customer at the Access bank who spoke to NAN, said that the bank authority should devise ways to ensure that there were no congestion of people in their premises.

“I’m afraid that with this crowd and assuming that there is any COVID-19 positive person here, the implication is that many of the customers who are here to transact business will contract the disease without knowing.

“Social distancing is very necessary and one of the effective ways to contain and prevent spread of the virus.

“I am urging government and its COVID-19 law enforcement team to beam their searchlights on banks and other institutions that record high influx of persons to curb spread of the virus,” Onwe said.

Messrs Ken Awo and Luke Anyim, customers at the Water Works branch of First Bank plc, observed that social distancing was not enforced.

“Everyone is at risk of contracting the virus because of our attitude toward obeying simple government’s directive.

“The crowd is much, there is no form of control and everyone is pushing to enter the hall and even the ATM points, the line is very long, rowdy and people are physically touching themselves.

“The government should as a matter urgency, meet with bank officials in the state and fine-tune measures to enhance social distancing at various banks,” they said.

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