By Celestine Ajayi
Amid growing misinformation that First Bank of Nigeria, one of Nigeria’s tier-1 banks has suspended its operations in the South eastern part of the country due to insecurity, the bank has taken to its social media accounts on Wednesday to debunk the story.
The bank stated that its branches in the south-east region are open for business, encouraging members of the public to disregard any contrary information.
“This is to inform the public that our South East branches are fully open for business. Please disregard any news making the rounds that is contrary to this,” it tweeted.
Perhaps, the rumor of the suspension of the bank’s operations in the region was triggered by the bank itself.
Recall that First Bank had announced the closure of 81 branches in the south-east region on May 31.
Although the reason for the decision was not stated by the bank, it was reportedly informed by the sit-at-home order issued by the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) on May 31, to mark the 54th anniversary of Biafra.
Emma Powerful, IPOB spokesman, had earlier said human and vehicular movements would be restricted across the south-east to commemorate the Biafra Day celebration.
On May 31, First Bank announced that 81 branches in the region will be temporarily closed.
A breakdown of the affected branches shows that 17 outlets were temporarily closed in Imo state, 15 in Enugu, 4 in Ebonyi, 28 in Anambra, and 17 branches in Abia state.
“Our South East branches are temporarily closed today. Please use our alternative channels to transact. Thank you,” the bank had tweeted.
This probably triggered the chain of reactions as many misconstrued the bank’s temporary closure on May 31, 2021 to a suspension of the bank’s service in the region.
On Twitter, the information shared by multiple account users had garnered over hundreds of retweets and more than 400 likes as seen on few accounts.
In one of such tweets with over 450 engagements, a Twitter user identified as David Abdulrasak Atta faulted President Muhammadu Buhari for the development.
“First Bank has reportedly suspended operations in the SE… A scenario that a vindictive president would let play out to the detriment of the region and which can easily be blamed on IPOB. His line of action is to save the SE from enemies within. But you’re too angry to see,” Atta tweeted.