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Polaris Bank staff move to cripple banking operations nationwide over unpaid salaries

FOLLOWING the ongoing crisis that is currently rocking one of the nation’s commercial bank, Polaris Bank Limited, all seems not well as no less than 100 staff are set to cripple banking activities in the bank across nationwide over unpaid salaries as the crisis persist.

    NaijaTimes gathered some aggrieved staff of the bank numbering over a hundred are determined to picket the bank nationwide in a mass protest next week. Sources within the bank said the matter has been brought before the National Industrial Court (NIC) in Lagos and Abuja.

    Recall that the bank has been enmeshed in crisis which seems to be unending, since its controversial sale, and this has continued to generate serious concern in several quarters.

    The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) in October 2022, sold the bank for N40 billion, which many believed and said was very controversial, especially after injecting over N1.2 trillion as bailout. 

    Checks by NaijaTimes revealed that as of December 2020, AMCON investment in the bank stood at N848 billion, per company filings, with insiders saying an additional N350 billion was injected between January 2021 and July 2022.

    It was gathered that CBN sold the purple brand bank to Strategic Capital Investment Limited (SCIL), reportedly promoted by Auwal Lawan Abdullahi, a son-in-law to former military head of state  Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida (IBB). 

    Many opined that the controversial sale, which was orchestrated in an alleged connivance with top echelons of CBN, calls for questioning, as analysts and banking sector watchers insist that all was not right with purported sale of the bank.

   Checks by NaijaTimes also showed that for the second month, over 100 branch managers of the bank are placed on suspension without pay for having non performing loan ratio above  five percent.

    According to some staff who spoke on condition of anonymity, the loans were duly approved and interests earned by the bank. They added that most of the loans were not book by them, instead they were referred and booked by other senior staff who are walking about freely.

   With the controversial sale of the bank, many say the Nigerian taxpayers lost around 97 per cent of state investment in Polaris. 

    It was gathered as a result of the crisis and its persistence, some depositors (customers), especially the small and medium enterprises who are nervous about their deposits and have lost confidence in the bank are reportedly moving their money to safer banks over fear of imminent distress.

    Reacting to the suspension of some staff of the bank, Lagos based lawyer and former chairman Young Lawyers Forum (YLF), Ikeja branch of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), Nurudeen Temilola Yusuf told NaijaTimes that the law does not permit suspension of a worker without pay. 

   He stated that where the employee(s) must suspended, the employer or its representatives (management) must communicate such to the employee in writing and it must be that employer or its representatives is carrying out an investigation to ascertain if such employee(s) is guilty of the matter he or she is being suspended for. 

   Meanwhile, sources within Polaris Bank told this newspaper that the management also insisted that suspended staff must report to duty daily and are drilled for performance review on a daily basis presided over by the managing director as well as weekly meetings which often time last late into the nights.

   There are speculations that concerned Nigerians are already pressuring and calling on the president-elect, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu to reverse the sale of the bank upon assumption of office come May 29. 

    All effort to reach Polaris Bank’s Head of Corporate Communications, Rasheed Bolarinwa failed, as he did not respond to enquiries when official reactions were sought for on Saturday.

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