#EndSARS: GTBank Under Attack

#EndSARS: GTBank Under Attack

Calls for probe over involvement

Video goes viral

Bank’s name missing from probe list

Dauda Ismail

As the Federal Government continues the clampdown on #EndSARS protesters and supporters, GTBank, one of the frontline banks which just last week Monday got commendations for its online banking, has come under attack for supporting the #EndSARS protests which shook Nigeria as youths were for the first time united beyond ethnic and religious divides.

The Economic Intelligence Unit, EIU, which has one of the largest and most experienced analyst teams in the world, with over 190 full-time country experts, industry analysts and economists had in its ‘Going Global: 12 Companies to Watch in Developing Markets’, said GTBank was leading the digital banking race in sub-Saharan Africa by getting more customers to bank online, reducing the communication gap with its customers and allowing customers to conduct 90 per cent of their banking transactions from home.

EIU was quoted as saying, “The lender’s digital services extend beyond banking to online payments for services such as applying for passports. In traditional banking, GTBank has held its ground despite falling interest income and assets,” saying GTBank and all the other companies profiled in its report were well positioned and had the ambition, business acumen and capacity to go big globally.

But the EIU was commending the bank when in Nigeria; there were already calls for the probe of the bank.

This is following what people call the support the bank gave to the #EndSARS protests, and for the government not including GTBank in its probe list. The Federal Government, FG, had since November 4, commenced a clampdown of campaigners of #EndSARS protests including barring some from travelling out of the country. But Nigerians who have seen the video where protesters were commending the bank for supporting the protests, and others who claimed to be part of the protesters who saw and benefitted from GTBank’s support have asked why the bank is missing in the probe and confrontation by the FG which began early this month.

According to a protester who simply gave his name as Ade Daddy, “I saw the water and even drank it. The bottle is still in my room. They boldly put their logo on the bottle and on the reverse side, inscribed the #EndSARS. So why is the government silent about them? Is it because the people in government have accounts with the bank that they cannot defend owing to their worth? Or are they afraid that GTBank has the money to engage the best of legal luminaries? You see, it does not add up. I don’t know why this administration will always have different standards for different persons.do you think they are not aware? Even if their children were not among the protesters, we all are aware that they must have seen the trending video. So, why silent about GTBank and persecuting other protesters and campaigners? You can see the government we have. For me, GTBank must be probed too”.

Another youth who spoke to AljazirahNigeria, SammyGee, an up-and coming musician said: “Although I did not see the water, but some persons I spoke with saw and had it. As for me, I saw the video and was expecting the bank to be probed, but they were not mentioned at all.

That is Nigeria of today for you. Or do they want the youths to go on another round of protests against selective judgment before they will do what is right? What is good for the goose, is also good for the gander so the federal government should probe GTBank and all other prominent persons who supported the protests, and not just to instruct CBN 9Centtral Bank of Nigeria) to freeze the account of others. We demand the federal government acts immediately as we do not have different versions of the constitution for different citizens.”

Meanwhile, on Wednesday November 11, it was reported that despite the outrage trailing the arrest and detention of #ENDSARS protesters across the country, the crackdown continued as a member of Delta State Judicial Panel of Inquiry set up to investigate allegations of police brutality and extrajudicial killings in the state, Harrison Gwamnishu, raised the alarm over what he described as the wanton arrest of persons who participated in the protest.

This came on the same day the sister of one of the #EndSARS protesters, Onomene Adene, explained how she was deceived by the police who arrested her brother, Eromosele Peter Adene, who she added had a liver problem. Raising the alarm in a statement, Gwamnishu, while questioning the intentions of the federal government, also accused the police and Department of State Services, DSS, as the brains behind the arrest. “You can’t beg citizens to sit and negotiate and at the same time freeze their accounts,” he said. Warning those who participated in the protest across the nation, he said: “If you were involved in #EndSARS protest, be careful of calls you receive. If anyone calls you on the phone and tells you to come and take or collect something, please don’t go. The police and DSS are out there picking #EndSARS protesters. “Your family and friends can be used as soft targets. This means, they can get your relatives/friends’ phone numbers from your network provider and use them to fish you out. They will also get your frequently dialed numbers, track them and later use them to get you.”

President of the Nigerian Bar Association, NBA, Olumide Akpata and a presidential candidate in the 2019 general elections, Kingsley Moghalu, also joined the fray of condemning the government’s actions describing it as unacceptable.

The NBA President, Akpata in a statement on his twitter handle, noted that lawyers in the country were not happy over the actions of the security agencies, adding that some of the protesters had gone into hiding after receiving phone threats, while others had their passports seized and accounts frozen.

Moghalu on his part, said: “The clampdown on #EndSARS protesters and supporters is completely wrong and unacceptable. I urge the authorities to reverse gear. These actions raise questions about the good faith of the government, and risk igniting even more resistance”.

Alos, a Warri-based human rights lawyer, Oghenejabor Ikimi, said the Federal Government was not only insincere about addressing issues raised by youths in the protests but also described the clampdown as an infringement on the rights of the individuals. “This goes to show you that the government is not ready and is speaking from both sides of its mouth in handling the challenges of this country, including the demands of these protesters which it agreed to address.

“Until the government meets these demands, the problem is not yet solved and the clampdown on the protesters is not the solution to the issues on ground. With the current position of the government, I wonder what will be the outcome of these panels of inquiry because the government is just being pretentious in handling the matter, hence the panels will definitely achieve nothing and it will be an exercise in futility,” he said.

Civil Society Organisations have also joined the condemnation of the government’s actions. According to Cynthia Mbamalu, the Director of Programmes, Yiaga Africa: “The arrest of #EndSARS protesters is an unconstitutional act by the State, and violation of the fundamental rights of citizens to freedom of expression and assembly. Democratic governance cannot thrive without accountability. Protest is an expression of the people’s right to participate in government and demand accountability.

“Arresting citizens for joining the #EndSARS protest is a violation of human rights, a blatant disregard for our Constitution and worrying trend of state abuse of power. These arrests cannot be reasonably justifiable in a democratic society.”

On his part, Adebayo Raphael, the convener of Centre for Liberty, urged the government to direct the release of all #EndSARS protesters and halt further harassment. He said: “The home-to-home arrests, as we are seeing presently, are part of the last vestiges of a tyrannical regime that is consumed by vicious confusion and bent on self-destruction.

“What Nigerian youths deserve now is solidarity from all men and women of conscience, who, like me, believe that injustice festers when it is not opposed; that the ultimate battle is not against a judicial panel but those who make the constitution of such a panel necessary in the first place. The government must release all #EndSARS protesters and stop harassing us”.

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