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#EndSARS: After Calls For Boycott, Access Bank Says It Was Only Following Orders

Access Bank has said it was not to blame for the suspension of access to accounts owned by eight promoters of the End SARS campaign, which spilt into weeks of street demonstrations in October.

A Federal High Court in Abuja had granted a request filed by the Central Bank in Nigeria (CBN) to freeze 20 accounts in the heat of the protests. One of the affected account owners, Gatefield Nigeria, which had supported journalists with grants to report the protest activities, had sued Access Bank for the action.

Meanwhile, on Wednesday, a campaign to #BoyAccessBank went viral on Twitter likely after Farida Adamu, a data analyst, announced plans to close her account with the bank.

“I will start the process of closing my account with Access Bank tomorrow, and I’m asking all of you who have accounts with them to please #BoycottAccessBank Young people died because they were cut off from medical help due to the actions of this bank. We cannot allow this stand,” she tweeted.

“You cannot trust a bank that is easily ruffled by the whims of a few in power with your money. Access Bank can seed your money to government without explanation and nothing will happen. Don’t let them get away with hurting our friends.”

Her tweet was shared over 1,500 times, and soon other Twitter users started making pleas for boycott using the hashtag. According to an online analytics tool, the hashtag had a total impression of over 139,000. Adamu later shared her letter to Access Bank requesting that two of her accounts be closed.

In its reaction on Friday, Access Bank expressed sympathy for the inconvenience its customers who were affected were going through, adding that it was eager to resolve the issue.

“It is common knowledge that we and the entire banking industry are regulated entities and therefore operate under the authority of our regulators and law enforcement agencies. As such we are compelled to comply with regulatory directives,” the bank said.

It urged that all complaints should have been forwarded to the “relevant regulatory and judicial agencies” and said it was surprised some people chose to target it “in a negative manner despite not being the source of the action”.

“The Bank has always been at the forefront of innovative efforts in support of the development of our country. We embrace this role as we are also the largest employer of labour – a sizeable number of which are youth,” it continued.

“Access Bank has always led the way with regard to support for young Nigerians in terms of capacity building and development of SMEs. Recall that Access Bank launched an initiative to boost the creative industry with loan facilities aimed at capacity building and employment for individuals and businesses in movie production and distribution, fashion, IT and music.

“We continue to be concerned by the inconvenience that our affected customers are experiencing. We stand ready to play our part to remedy the situation and have them using their accounts as quickly as possible.”

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'Kunle Adebajo

Head of Investigations at HumAngle. ‘Kunle covers conflict alongside its many intricacies and fallouts. He also writes about disinformation, the environment, and human rights. He's won a couple of journalism awards, including the 2021 Wole Soyinka Award for Investigative Journalism, the 2022 African Fact-checking Award, and the 2023 Michael Elliott Award for Excellence in African Storytelling.

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