Customers wait outside Access Bank branch

BY EMEKA EJERE  

Many were gripped by fear of possible spike in the cases of Coronavirus infections on Monday as Nigerians besieged banks to withdraw cash after the Federal Government partially unlocked restrictions in Abuja, Lagos and Ogun states.

Investigations revealed that, like prisoners let out of their confinement for the first time in a long time, residents in Lagos and Abuja flooded banks apparently to cash money to cushion the effects of lockdown.

Bus stops, bank premises, and markets were flooded by people who came out en mass to seek their daily bread.

As early as 8 am, bank premises were already full of people seeking to gain entrance into the banking halls for one transaction or the other. And by 11 am, Twitter was filled with so many posts warning Nigerians about the risks of visiting any bank branch due to the mammoth crowd.

Later in the day, a video went viral on Twitter showing a crowd of people outside the GTBank branch at Masha in Surulere. Many of the replies to the tweet suggested that similar crowds were witnessed at other branches, including the ones at Okota, Ogba, Yaba, and Owutu-Ikorodu.

Union Bank was also flooded by customers. Former Nigerian lawmaker, Senator Dino Melaye, shared a video showing a crowd of customers outside one of the bank’s branches in Abuja.

Meanwhile, it appears many banks envisaged the ugly situation and took extra precautions to ensure that the number of people allowed inside the banking halls was limited. Little wonder so many people were left standing outside the banks, unable to get in.

Earlier in the day, GTBank issued a statement announcing that only 11 branches in Lagos would be open as the lockdown easing begins. A part of the statement said:

“As we re-open our branches following the easing of the lockdown, we will do so gradually and as safely as we can. Selected branches will be open between the hours of 9 am – 3 pm today Monday, May 4, 2020, and 9 am – 2 pm from Tuesday, May 5 to Friday, May 8, 2020.”

Findings show that the crazy human traffic experienced at the banks is partly explained by the fact that many customers suffered a lot of failed transactions and unreversed funds during the over four weeks of lockdown.