23.11.2022 Featured 20 Years After Bloody Robberies, No Bank Has Returned To Oyo Community Ilora

Published 23rd Nov, 2022

By Jimoh Abdullahi

The front view of the round down bank is overtaken by heavily grown weeds. Photo credit: Jimoh Abdullahi/ FIJ. Note: [This reporter was not allowed to enter the compound of the bank.

Despite having a booming agribusiness-reliant economy, Ilora, the biggest town in Afijio local government area of Oyo State, is still without a single commercial bank. They previously had African International Bank, the first commercial bank in the community, but it was forced to close down after two successive, bloody robbery incidents.

I met a witness to one of the robberies who preferred to remain anonymous. He said he was a student of the Ilora Baptist Grammar School, a public school located opposite the bank, at the time.

“It was during break time; we were playing on the field, and the gunshots’ echoes that travelled down our earlobes dispersed us,” the man said.

He recounted how being a group of boys on the field, they were able to manoeuvre a bit and valiantly throw stones at the thieves from afar, although none got to them.

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“They would have wasted us, but they considered us young. That was why they only shot intermittently in thin air to scare us.” 

He was in SSS 2 when the last attack was launched around the year 2000. He said he learned that security guards were killed, and that after the armed robbers left, they got beaten by their teachers on the order of the then principal of the school.

The Bank’s Staff and the Customers Pay the Price

One of the bank’s staff who requested anonymity said,

“It was the armed robbers that scattered us. I was an ordinary staff member of the bank. After the incident, the management promised to give us our salary but we haven’t been paid.”

He also said that there was a controversy between the directors even before the robbery attack.

However, on account of the robbery, many customers were also unable to retrieve their money.

The source identified the first and second managers of the bank as Mr. Suola and Mr. Durosaro, respectively. But it was the last manager of the bank, whose name he could not recall, that witnessed the incident. The manager could however not be tracked for additional interviews as of the time of filing this report.  

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FIJ findings revealed that the Central Bank of Nigeria had revoked the licenses of the bank’s branches, prompting them cease to operate since September 2, 2013.

The Community’s  Residents Lament 

Raji Abdulrasheed is a small-scale business owner who sells jerseys. Despite having a personal motorcycle, he laments the amount of stress he goes through to withdraw cash.

“Whenever I need just N1000 cash or any amount beyond it from my account or there is a network glitch during online transfer on mobile phone, I will have to dash to neighbouring Oyo town to withdraw,” he said.

“It disfigures this town for no having just an ATM, despite its gigantism. It is embarrassing! Even some small communities in our neighbourhood have.”

Abdul-Lateef Olayemi, a printing press operator, has to set out for the United Bank for Africa (UBA) branch in Oyo town whenever he wants to deposit money or withdraw money his customers sent him for work.

“If it is okada I want to take there, I must prepare N400 for transport to and fro. This lingering problem is tiring. It is affecting us a lot. The amount we spend on transport and the stress are not necessary.”

Olayemi also knows a farmer who was robbed of his harvest proceeds by a gang of robbers because he kept the money at home. “If a bank was available would he not have saved the money immediately?” he queried. 

Some of the town’s people who cannot afford the stress of going to a neighboring town have taken to the Points of Sale (POS) system as an alternative, though they are upset with the amount charged per transaction.

People queue to withdraw at the  Access Bank in  Oyo town some miles away to the community where the residents come for transaction.Photo credit: Jimoh Abdullahi/ FIJ

Expert Opinion

Adelere Victor, an Oyo State based financial expert, told FIJ that before a bank branch is sited in a particular area, they consider the level of safety of the environment based on CBN policy.

“For security reasons, CBN normally approves before any branch is sited, so they normally do a survey and if the branch is not safe, there won’t be up to two or three banks within the area to cover based on the population.” 

He also said that, in terms of population and economy, some of those places without banks may not pull the kind of volume that would entice banks to open up branches there.

An erected Sign post showing the land prepared for any new bank branch. Photo credit: Jimoh Abdullahi/FIJ

The Community’s Stakeholders Make a Move 

Kayode Adio, chairman of Ilora Development Association, said they had been working underneath on the lingering problem, but it has not yet yielded a positive result.

“The issue of not having a commercial bank in the town is worrisome,” he said. “We have contacted several people and banks like Zenith bank, UBA, most importantly, Ecobank that took over AIB, but nothing yielded any results.” 

He also said that the community is ready to welcome any bank that may come to their rescue, as a small piece of land has been kept aside for that purpose.

Published 23rd Nov, 2022

By Jimoh Abdullahi


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