By NGIJ team of Oluwasegun Abifarin and Olawale Abideen
After gleefully announcing a gross earnings of 166.8 billion naira and a Profit Before Tax of 58.8 billion for the first quarter of 2020, Zenith Bank Plc has slipped into a scandal splashed on it by its branch in Ado Ekiti, Ekiti state.
Mrs Olajumoke Owoola, a Commissioner in the Ekiti State Teaching Service Commission, TESCOM is crying for help over a loan snare laid for her by EKSU branch of Zenith Bank in Ekiti State. Her ordeal actually began on December 22nd, 2019 when one Mr. Olusegun Aribisala, a relationship manager with bank approached the Commissioner to move her salary account from Union Bank to his Zenith Bank with a promise of a N3 million loan to the deal.
An excited Owoola informed her Chairman at TESCOM, Honourable Babatunde Abegunde and her other colleagues, such as Yetunde Adamu and Hon. Bayo Akerele of the Board of Technical Education; Hon. Idowu Ayegbe and Mr. Osuolale Olorunnisola, a fellow Commissioner in TESCOM.
Banking on Aribisala’s assurance that the loan processes will be through in three days after moving their accounts to Zenith Bank, Owoola and her friends swallowed the bait.
No sooner had they move the accounts, that Aribisala started a discordant tune: First, he told Owoola that the three days was not realistic again, since her January salary was yet to enter the account. The second story was that she should go and collect a letter of authorization from her office. Owoola and her friends complied and dropped the letters and all other documents. Yet, Owoola maintained that “the story keeps on changing.”
Almost two months later, Aribisala brought another excuse that there was a machine error in his office and thereafter brought another set of forms for Owoola and her friends to fill.
This was followed by another request that they should all pay N55, 000 for processing, and gave a personal account (Omolara Aribisala) for them to pay to. “All of us paid into the account,” Owoola told our correspondent.
After this, Aribisala’s assurance that the loan will be ready in another one month did not materialized, a development which forced Owoola’s colleague, Ayegbe to pull out of the arrangement and went back to his Union Bank.
Frustrated, Owoola later went to the Ekiti State University, EKSU branch of the bank to report Aribisala to the Branch manager, Mrs. Olaore Okunola. Coincidentally, her Boss, the TESCOM Chairman met her there, but Okunola continued to beg and plead with them. “The woman begged and pleaded without making any commitment, after which she gave me a pack of fruit juice and gave a bottle of wine to my boss,” Owoola said.
The Commissioner later called the Zenith Bank’s Lagos office to narrate her ordeal. “But Ayoola Kusimo, the man who spoke to me from the bank’s corporate communications department merely begged me not to go the press and promised to call Ekiti branch..and till today, nothing has happened,” she maintained.
Owoola later decided to go to the bank’s online platform to complain as well, but she merely got an email reply that only her account manager can talk to her…and nobody has talked to her since then. “My effort on the bank’s Facebook account merely raised my fraud antenna, when the person chatting with me was asking for my PIN..and I backed off,” Owoola said.
Now the commissioner is crying for justice to get her loan and if not, a refund of her N55, 000 “processing fee” paid to Aribisala.
When our correspondent called Kusimo on May 6, 2020, the excuse was that bank was just resuming after the Coronavirus lock down and that he had contacted the Ekiti branch which had promised to sort out the problem in ten days.
Twenty days after, it was angry Owoola that sent wattsapp message on May 27, to inform us that nothing had been done about it. According to her, “I was about to call you at dawn when I saw your message. You can go ahead please. I care less again.”
Before the recent controversy, Zenith bank has run into a wild storm of controversy brewed from its IGR collection activities in far-away Niger State.
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, the nation’s anti-graft body has been alerted that Bank is in a mud of a N359.2 million IGR controversy in Niger state.
Before the misadventure in Niger State, the same bank has been dressed in similar robe in Nasarawa State where forensic investigation assessed that it withheld about N176.2 million due to the state.