Imo State government through its agency, Owerri Capital Development Authority, OCDA, has sealed almost all the banks in Owerri, the state capital.
Although the government blamed the ban on lack of building plan approval, the banks insisted it was due to the last Monday sit-at-home.
Residents said they woke up yesterday morning to see the banks sealed while customers were seen in front of the banks stranded.
All the banks on Assumpta Avenue popularly known as Bank Road had a sticker with the seal of OCDA and a red tape, except Zenith Bank which is undergoing reconstruction
The banks affected included United Bank for Africa, First, Heritage, Access, Eco, Sterling, and Polaris banks.
The OCDA sticker pasted on the entrance door of the banks had the following inscriptions: ‘Sealed! Signed: General Manager; No building approval; removal of this sticker without approval from the office will attract a fine of N500,000’.
All the banks in the state had closed for five consecutive Mondays following the sit-at-home declared by the Indigenous People of Biafra, IPOB, as a protest against its leader Nnamdi Kanu being detained by the federal government.
Though IPOB had suspended the sit-at-home order, banks, schools, markets, and business outfits in the state had continued to shut down on Mondays as a precautionary measure.
A source in the bank who pleaded anonymity linked the sealing of the banks to the fact that they decided not to be opening on Mondays for security reasons due to the sit-at-home order.
“They just want to get at us for deciding not to open on Mondays. What do they mean by ‘no building approval’? Some of these bank buildings have been here for more than 50 years and they suddenly realized we have no building approval.
“We didn’t decide to close because we are part of IPOB but for safety measures. Everybody saw what happened on the first Monday of the sit-at-home, how people were killed and businesses destroyed; we don’t need to take such risk”, he stated.
A customer who gave his name as Chinedu Ajoku, wondered why the government should go to such an extent of fighting the banks.
The General Manager, OCDA, Innocent Ikpamezie neither answered, nor returned several calls put across to his phone line.
He also did not reply to a text message sent to his line at the time of filing this report.
However, sources close to the state Commissioner for Information, Declan Emelumba said the banks frustrated Imolites on Monday by refusing to open for business.