Commercial banks in the four local governments in Akoko area of the Ondo North Senatorial District of Ondo State were yesterday shut to customers over the redeployment of policemen guarding the banks to Ekiti State for All Progressives Congress (APC) political rally. The withdrawal of policemen from Akoko area in 2015 led to bank robbery in Ikare-Akoko in Akoko Northeast Local Government where policemen at the station were killed. The affected local governments included Akoko Southeast, Southwest, Northeast and Northwest.
The policemen were deployed from the four council areas and other parts of the state for the political rally.
The policemen from Ondo State were parts of the policemen deployed to Ado Ekiti on special duty to provide security for the visit of President Muhammadu Buhari and other national leaders of the ruling APC, who were in Ekiti State, for the political rally in support of the party and its candidate in the July 14th governorship election, Dr. Kayode Fayemi.
Many of the customers who wanted to transact business with the affected banks were turned back while the banks were under lock and key.
A source stated that the Automated Teller Machines (ATMs) in Ikare Akoko, Akungba Akoko, Oka Akoko, Arigidi Akoko and some other towns in Akoko land were massively besieged by many customers who were unable to withdraw in the banks.
An official of one of the affected banks, who spoke with reporters, explained that the fear of possible attack of armed robbers informed the decision of the banks not to open for operation.
His words: “The banks did not open because there were no policemen to provide security for them. All of them (policemen) have been sent to Ekiti State to provide security for Mr. President. If you come to Akoko today (yesterday) you will find very few policemen in the towns, all of them are now in Ekiti for a political rally.
“It has happened before in 2014, when policemen were deployed for a political rally. It was on that day that a gang of armed robbers struck at the banks, killing many people and stealing money. So we don’t want such to happen again at our banks.
“I believe, tomorrow (today), if the policemen are back to their duty posts, we will open for customers to transact, but today, it is very risky to open banks in these areas. We don’t want armed robbers to take the advantage of police absence.”
However, the Ondo State Police Public Relations Officer (PPRO), Mr. Femi Joseph, said the policemen deployed to Ekiti State could not substantially affect the operations of the bank.
He said there were policemen in mufti on ground to provide adequate security for the concerned banks.
The PPRO said: “I don’t know why the banks did not open. We have policemen on ground for their security.
“It is true that some of our men were sent to Ekiti State, but not those that were guarding banks. But those policemen on ground were not in uniform, so many people don’t know them.
“We know the importance of the security for banks and we can’t joke with it. So the banks should go on with their business, no cause for alarm.”
Joseph said the Area Commander in Akoko area, Mr. Rasaq Rauf, went to the banks to assure them of their safety and the banks had since opened for their customers.
The Inspector-General of Police, Mr. Ibrahim Idris, has deployed 30,000 policemen to Ekiti for the Saturday’s governorship election.
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