Hundreds of workers of the Akwa Savings and Loans Limited on Monday shut the bank over non-payment of their salaries for four months.
They said unless the present management of the bank was sacked, the finance house would continue to lack accountability and transparency.
Chairperson, National Union of Banks, Insurance, and Financial Institutions in the state, Mrs. Bassey Mbede, stated that the bank owed its workers salaries since January.
According to her, the problem started two years ago when the state government took a loan from the bank and bought shares in Champions Breweries.
She added that the money had been refunded to the bank early this year, but noted that a lien was placed on the money which had been deposited into an account in the United Bank for Africa, prohibiting the management from access to the fund.
Mbede said besides salaries, the bank also owed them leave grants, among other benefits. She stated that no worker of the bank would resume duty until all the salaries from January to date were paid.
“We have not been paid salaries since January and that is why we have called an indefinite strike. No employee of this bank will work until all our demands are met.
“We are not interested in knowing why they cannot pay us, whether they took money from the bank for any purpose or not is not our business; our business is that we have not been paid, we want our salaries paid,” she said.
A worker, who did not want his identity known, told our correspondent that Akwa Ibom State Government took N1.8bn loan from the bank.
He added that since the time the loan was taken, the bank had been having problem of not being able to meet its customers’ obligations or pay workers’ salaries and entitlements.
Apart from the workers, pensioners and customers also lamented that they had not been able to get their money from the bank.
One of the customers and a tailor, Mr. Richard Effiong, said he had N1.5m in his bank account. He stated that for the past four months he had not been able to access N900,000 which he needed to complete his house.
He said, “I have been coming from Ekpene Ukim, in the Uruan area to Uyo for the past four months. I have a house that I am building; it is roofing that is left. Each time I come to the bank they would tell me that they do not have money to pay me.”
A pensioner, Mrs. Theresa Akpan, said she had N58,000 in the bank, which was her pension money for three months.
Efforts to speak with the Commissioner of Finance, Mr. Akan Okon and the Commissioner for Information and Communications, Mr. Aniekan Umana, proved abortive as both officials failed to answer calls made into their mobile phones.
They had also yet to respond to text messages sent to them.