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Low turnout of customers at commercial banks

By Moses Uwagbale

Commercial banks in Lagos State on Monday witnessed gradual return of business after the 24-hour curfew imposed on residents was lifted with low turnout of customers.

The banks in Iganmu, Bode Thomas, Okota and Ejigbo axis attended to few customers waiting various business transactions.

At United Bank for Africa and First Bank of Nigeria, Iganmu branch, customers were scanty as one could easily count them.

On Bode Thomas, the Guarantee Trust Bank, Fidelity Bank and Access Bank also had few customers waiting in the banks for various transactions.

The situation was the same at most banks around Okota and Ejigbo and Egbe.

Mrs Joke Aderunmobi, a teacher and a customer in  Okota said she carried out her transactions with ease because people were not many compared to previous weeks.

“I live very close by; this is my branch. After COVID-19 lockdown each time I visited the bank, I will meet a large crowd of people waiting to carry out various transactions.

“It’s usually frustrating but today here I am seated without crowd and everything going on peacefully,” she said.

Another customer, Alhaji Rafiu Mohammed, a fruit dealer said he believed the reason banks witnessed fewer customers was because of the tension in the state.

“Let me tell you that the reason people have not visited banks today is because they are still afraid due to the recent activities of hoodlums.

“It is not just the banks that are witnessing this fewer number of people. If you observe, you will see that the roads are quite free.

“Motorists are also afraid of coming out,” he said.

Protests, curfew no impact on capital market

By Chris Ndibe

Many experts in the capital market say the EndSARS protests and curfew imposed in some states did not have any significant impact on the capital market.

The experts, said in Abuja on Monday that the stability of the market was due to improved stock market infrastructure.

Mr Uche Uwaleke, Professor of Capital Market and President, Capital Market Academics of Nigeria said the improved infrastructures ensured that remote trading took place even during movement restrictions.

Uwaleke listed some other measures that contributed to the stability of the market as the relative steadiness in international crude oil price and the foreign exchange market.

He said that other variables that contributed to the stability were the short-lived nature of the crisis and the involvement of more domestic investors in the market compared to foreign investors.

He said that foreign investors usually destabilised the market by suddenly exiting whenever there was a shock to the economy.

“The protest and curfew did not have much negative impact on the market.

“We only saw the impact on Wednesday when the equities market lost 0.75 per cent but the market still ended on a positive note earlier. It made an impact but the impact was not that strong.

“The fact is that the week-on-week return will have been higher but for the crisis.

“So, I would say that the crisis affected the market but not significantly.

“The impact was muted due to the fact that a good number of bellwether stocks such as MTN, Dangote Cement, Zenith, Guaranty and Stanbic banks have strong fundamentals.

“Also, there is  a shift in preference for equities due to the crash in returns from fixed income securities and other asset classes and the timely presentation of the 2021 budget proposal to the National Assembly,’’ he said.

Uwaleke also commended the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) for its efforts toward ensuring the stability of the market through its policies.

Alhaji Rasheed Yussuf, the Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer of Trust Yields Securities Ltd. said the protests and curfew did not disturb market transactions.

Yussuf said the market had moved from manual to electronic which made it possible for transactions and exchanges to be done electronically during the protests and curfew.

He urged the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) to put an argument through to the government to consider operators in the market while giving palliatives to affected businesses.

“Serious government like the Lagos State Government is talking about some support for the companies that have been affected by the crisis.

“SEC should put cases for brokers whose companies have been affected.

“We will do everything we can but at the moment, everybody is still accessing the damages.

Food vendors decry poor patronage

By Moses Uwagbale

Some restaurant operators and food vendors in the FCT  have decried low patronage amid scare of possible attack by hoodlums due to the recent #EndSARS” protests.

According to operators in Abuja, attacks by hoodlums who hijacked the peaceful protests in have created panic that made residents, especially their customers not to patronise them.

They also attributed the low patronage to the unwillingness of people to leave their homes because of possible attack by the hoodlums.

Mrs Ifeoma Marcus, who operates a restaurant at the Old Federal Secretariat in Area One, lamented that daily turn-over had been drastically reduced since the protest began.

“Customers hardly come to buy food; so I had to go home with the remaining food for the past three days now.

“I stay at Karu and before I could get here, it is almost midday because of the gridlock caused by the protest.

“Even if you bring the food, you will still go home with it because people are afraid to come out.”

Mrs Felicia Bode, a food vendor at the popular Cook Village beside the Eagle’s Square said: “Since this protest started, our daily sales have been greatly affected.

“This last Friday became the worst because there was  rumour of attacks by hoodlums after the Friday prayers, and that made many civil servants to leave the Federal Secretariat very early.

“We have to come back home with our foods, and am afraid if the same thing will happen this week.

“The protesters have stopped, but there are still reports of attacks on innocent people across the FCT, and I want government to do something about it urgently.”

Some food vendors along Abuja-Keffi road said that their shops were invaded and their wares carted away by thugs popularly known as ‘Area boys’.

They said there was a report of fracas between hoodlums and some EndSARS protesters around the popular `Mararaba Junction’, a suburb of the FCT and passers-by were being attacked by the hoodlums.

Mrs Ene Oguche, who sells roasted chicken at Ado junction of the Abuja-Keffi road, said: “We heard that Mararaba was boiling, that people were being attacked, so all of us selling here had to run for our dear lives.

“Before we came back, they have stolen everything I was selling, including that of my neighbours.

“Many people had different degree of accidents because of the panic caused by the report of fighting going on at Mararaba.”

Ms Vivia Agu, who sells female hair attachments along the road said her goods were also stolen amidst the confusion that trailed the news of the attack going on in the area.

Agu lamented that “many miscreants have taken advantage of this EndSARS protest to be spreading fake news of attack.’’

“We all ran for our lives and many people were injured; only to find out that there was no attack at all in our area.”

Operators condemn burning of headquarters of ports authority

By Tanko Mohammed

The Chairman, Seaport Terminal Operators Association of Nigeria (STOAN), Mrs Vicky Haastrup, has condemned the looting and burning of the headquarters building of the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA).

Haastrup, in a statement in Lagos, also conveyed the sympathy of all STOAN members to the Board, Management and Staff of the authority over the incident.

Recall that the NPA building, located on Marina Street, Lagos, was torched by hoodlums on Oct 21.

The hoodlums also set many official and private vehicles parked within the NPA premises on fire.

Speaking on the unfortunate incident, Haastrup said, “setting a national asset such as the NPA headquarters building, which belongs to all Nigerians, on fire is an ignoble action and we urge government to bring the perpetrators of this evil act to justice.

“These are trying times for the country and it is the responsibility of all Nigerians to protect, not destroy, critical national infrastructure.”

The STOAN Chairman said that while it was within the rights of the youth and other Nigerians to express their grievances through protests, such expressions must be done in a non-violent manner.

She said such act must be carried out within the ambits of the law.

“It is rather unfortunate that hoodlums hijacked the otherwise peaceful #ENDSARS protest that received global commendation for its campaign against police brutality in the country.

“Those who destroyed the NPA building, public assets and private businesses, cannot, by any stretch of the imagination, be termed #ENDSARS protesters.

“They are criminal elements who decided to hide under the guise of an otherwise noble cause, to steal and destroy public property.

“This must not be condoned by any means and we do hope that the relevant security arms of government will secure what is left of the NPA building and other national assets across the country so as to prevent another round of destruction.

“We also do hope that an investigation will be promptly launched into the incident to unravel the perpetrators,” she said.

Haastrup also urged government to beef up security at all the seaports in various parts of the country, while protecting port workers against attacks.

“The seaports are critical to the economic well-being of Nigeria and Nigerians.

“Port workers are also essential service workers, so I wish to use this opportunity to urge governments at all levels to ensure that hoodlums are not allowed to gain access into the ports or launch attacks on port workers.

“The country cannot afford prolonged interruption of port operations, though we have seen severe interruptions of services at the Apapa, Tin Can and Onne Ports over the past few days.

“Trucks have been unable to go in and out of the port and many perishable items are rotting away.

“We therefore urge government to make it possible for port workers to return to work immediately so as to minimise the impact of prolonged closures,” Haastrup said.

Traders warns against buying looted items

By Tanko Mohammed

The National Association of Nigerian Traders (NANTS) has warned its members to avoid buying or selling any item stolen or unlawfully carted away by hoodlums, following reports of massive destruction and looting in some parts of the country.

The NANTS President, Dr Ken Ukaoha, in a statement issued on Sunday in Abuja, directed members of the association to report any suspected seller or buyer of such items to the market leadership or the nearest security agency.

“No member of NANTS must be found culpable or associating with such stolen items, as any trader or market found in possession of the items will be excommunicated or made to face the full wrath of the law.

“NANTS wishes to reiterate the need for all members to be detached from all forms of the ongoing brigandage and destruction of property of both individuals and government,” Ukaoha said.

He urged members be security conscious and guard or close their markets, where necessary, to avoid any possible looting and arson.

The NANTS president called on government to take measures to arrest the situation and ensure that the looting spree did not escalate to markets and shopping malls.

He also urged government to investigate the unfortunate development, with a view to identifying the culprits and making them face the law so as to serve as deterrent to others.