By Patrick Obia and Blessing Isong
Listen To The Report
Customers of the Calabar Microfinance Bank are complaining of their inability to access their funds domiciled in the bank.
The bank is reportedly facing some unknown crisis that makes it ration out cash available, with some unable to access cash for weeks. Also, customers are claiming that they can’t even transfer the money in their accounts, while the bank never runs out of excuses.
“I have been to this bank for the past three weeks and I have not been able to get the arrears that have been sent to my account,” Esther Etim, a public servant, told CrossRiverWatch.
She continued: “My ledger balance is showing the money, but I can’t transfer or access or even get money from the bank. I have been given different excuses. The last time they said the signatory to the accountant will be back next week Thursday. I called, and they said they were at the bank trying to check and will get back to me, but still nothing. It is either, it is fraudulent; in fact, it is fraudulent to even have an account balance you can’t access.”
She is contemplating filing a suit over the matter. “The bank doesn’t have money, if you have 600 thousand Naira, they will give you ten thousand. It is either we report the case and make it a legal matter because already this is an illegal treatment from a bank we have a balance that we can not access.”
While Esther’s position may be borne out of frustration, Chief Archibong Billy described the situation as “embarrassing,” accusing the Managing Director of the bank of using customers’ funds for business.
“What is happening here is a different thing, and it is very embarrassing. You will come there to get money. They will tell you to hold on. You will have to wait for days before you can pick small money like 10 to 20 thousand Naira,” Chief Archibong said.
He lamented the continuous claim by the bank that it did not have money to pay customers. He said: “We don’t know what is happening. The management is not saying anything, they know that there is no money but refused to explain to us what is happening to people’s money; nobody is happy about this because it’s embarrassing. From the look of things, I think the management is responsible for what is happening. They should be held responsible for whatever is happening. They have used our money to do business and the money is not forthcoming and the owners are suffering for it.”
For Ms. Evans Okon, a customer of 21 years, the bank has treated her like an animal. “I have been saving here for twenty-one years. I just want to withdraw the little I have to go and make use of it, and they started turning me. When you come they will give you a fixed deposit slip, if you fill in Fifty thousand and time to get the money they will say come and collect Five thousand or Seven thousand. They are treating people like animals with people’s money,” she said.
When these reporters reached out to the bank management at its head office at 72, Egerton Street in Calabar, they declined to comment.
When the reporters arrived in the banking hall, the staff deserted their posts. The manager said he was on call and left into an office, which he never came out from until the reporters left. Minutes later, a policeman attached to the bank became hostile.
A few minutes later, he left for the Atakpa division of the Police which is less than a kilometer away, and mobilized colleagues to intercept the vehicle which the reporters were leaving with.
After nearly an hour of the standoff, these reporters were allowed to leave with customers still waiting for their money.
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