Customers besiege Midland to withdraw savings

BY: MabelAku Baneseh
Some customers who thronged the premises of the Midland Savings and Loans Limited at Shiashie to withdraw their savings. Picture: INNOCENT K. OWUSU
Some customers who thronged the premises of the Midland Savings and Loans Limited at Shiashie to withdraw their savings. Picture: INNOCENT K. OWUSU

Scores of customers of the embattled Midland Savings and Loans Limited besieged the company’s premises yesterday morning to withdraw their savings after a video of a policeman abusing a customer of the company emerged on social media last Thursday.

Some of the customers pitched camp at the Shiashie branch of the company as early as 7 a.m. yesterday to withdraw their savings, but began to disperse around 9 a.m. when they were informed by officials of the company that it was closed for business.

Although banks open at 8:30 a.m. for normal business, the customers told the Daily Graphic they had reported early to avoid being turned away by officials of the company.

The customers became agitated when news reached them that the branch would not be opened for business yesterday.

It took the intervention of the police to restore law and order.

Despite the intervention of the management and security personnel, some customers continued to stand outside the premises up to 12 noon, with the hope that the bank might eventually open for business.

Management

A Customer Service Manager of Midland Savings and Loans Limited, Mr Albert Ransford Nyarko, told journalists that the workers of the financial institution had received death threats from some of its customers and unknown persons.

He said the management had seen the unfortunate video and put in measures to ensure that such an incident did not recur.

He condemned the incident and said the company valued its customers and would do everything possible to continuously protect their interest.

He, accordingly, pleaded with the customers of the bank and the public to bear with the bank, as it had initiated processes to ensure that such an incident did not recur.

He said the company, which had been in existence for the past 20 years, had never encountered such a problem.

Mr Nyarko said it was not true that the bank was facing liquidity problems and, accordingly, gave an assurance that customers’ savings were safe.

Police chief

The Commander of the Airport Divisional Command of the Ghana Police Service, Chief Superintendent of Police Mr Edward Asante, told the Daily Graphic that the police were detailed to the Shiashie branch of the bank to restore law and order, as well as protect valuables and human lives.

“My team and I intervened around 8 a.m. to appease the peeved customers. We have enough men to provide security,” he said, stressing that “the police will be on duty until calm returns to the bank”.

He said one observation made was that most of the workers of the bank did not report for work yesterday, for fear of being attacked.

Angry customers

Two customers of the bank told the Daily Graphic the difficulties they had encountered in the past weeks in their attempt to withdraw their savings.

Madam Helen Akorli, a beautician, said she had, for the past three weeks, attempted to withdraw her GH¢7,000 but was paid GH¢6,000 within a three-week period.

According to her, she had reported at the bank yesterday morning to withdraw the balance of GH¢1,000 but was told it was closed until today.

She told the Daily Graphic that she would be at the bank first thing today to withdraw her money.

Madam Victoria Hector, a seamstress, said she had been at the bank last Thursday to withdraw GH¢300 but had been told the network was down.

She said she later heard in the news that a customer had been assaulted the day she had gone to the bank to withdraw her money.

According to her, she would be at the bank today to withdraw her money.

Other customers who spoke to the Daily Graphic on condition of anonymity said they would not stop going to the bank until they received their money.

Suspension

Meanwhile, five members of staff of the Midland Savings and Loans Company who witnessed the assault of the customer, Ms Patience Osafo, by the policeman, Frederick Amanor, have been suspended pending investigations into the matter.

Their suspension followed what the management of the company described as their “failure” to handle the situation in the manner they were trained to do.

“Management has commenced investigations into the matter and all those involved will be dealt with in accordance with the law. We do not approve of what happened and condemn it in no uncertain terms. It is unfortunate, but our staff are trained to respond to the needs of customers in a professional manner,” the Deputy Managing Director of Midland, Mr Isaac Mensah, told the Daily Graphic in an interview.

While showing appreciation for the role of the police in protecting financial institutions, including the company, he said the incident involving the policeman was regrettable and unwarranted.

He rendered an unqualified apology to Ms Osafo on behalf of the company and said it had, since last Friday, tried to contact her personally to apologise to her but the effort was yet to yield fruits.

“We have been to her house; we have called the number she provided in our database, but it is either someone picks and says she is not around or the phone is off. We want to apologise to her. We are deeply sorry for what happened,” Mr Mensah said.

He said the company would compensate Ms Osafo for the unfortunate incident which had brought the name of the company into disrepute.

Presidential mention

Meanwhile, Ms Osafo got a presidential mention last week when President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo condemned the assault meted out to her.

The President, while on a tour of the Northern Region, said: “I want to say it here that policemen are meant to protect citizens and not assault them.”

He said the Inspector General of Police (IGP) had his support to sanction the erring officer, as well as ensure that the incident did not happen again.

“I support 100 per cent the measures that he has taken, so that we can stop these incidents from proliferating,” the President said in response to a statement from the Police Service that steps had been taken to bring L/Cpl Amanor to book.

The assault

Social media sparked with outrage when a video showing the policeman assaulting Ms Osafo emerged.

The incident, which occurred at the Shiashie branch of the Midland Savings and Loans Ltd, stirred emotions.

The less-than-three-minute video went viral on all social media platforms less than an hour after it was first released.

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