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Customers storm Oceanic Bank head office

Jan 6, 2011, 12:07 PM | Article By: Sainey MK Marenah

Some members of the public believed to be customers of Oceanic Bank (Gambia) Limited yesterday stormed the bank’s head office along Kairaba Avenue, following an announcement by the Central Bank of The Gambia on Monday that the bank failed to meet the capital requirement of D150 million and thus decided to wind up its operations in the country.

Following an investigation mounted by this reporter, who interviewed the visibly angry customers, some of them screaming their displeasure over what they called the bank’s administrative and operational failure, one after another, they expressed their disappointment over the bank’s closing down.

Some welcomed and described as timely, the announcement by the Central Bank, which called on depositors to collect their monies from Oceanic Bank.

“My impression about the bank, since I started banking with them, was that it was the best and most reliable bank in The Gambia, but they disappointed me,” a Nigerian national banking with Oceanic Bank told this reporter.

Momodou Secka, also a customer with the bank, said: “When I heard about the announcement, I quickly rushed to the bank to withdraw my money. All what I want, and can say is that I need my money.”

Another angry customer who does not want to be named also expressed his disappointment over the way and manner in which the bank stopped its operations, without giving the clients a notice, noting that he was surprised to see his best bank ceasing operations in The Gambia.

“The Bank should have made it very clear to their clients, since the beginning of their operations, because I personally trusted Oceanic Bank, but this situation is a major blow not only to Oceanic Bank (Gambia), but its parent bank in Nigeria. I am really shocked about this development,” he said, before telling this reporter that he has no time for anything, but to collect his money.

For Flex Ajayi, also a customer, the situation came as a surprise to him, but he was quite sympathetic. “As far as I am concerned, there is nothing too difficult here; because once you come they give you your money. The only sad thing is that we are going to miss them, and we will look for another bank. I don’t feel disappointed. The only disappointment is that we are going to look for another bank,” he said.

Geneis was another customer who stormed the bank in the early hours of the morning. He told this reporter: “I see the bank as a good bank, but unfortunately, I was told yesterday that they want to close down operations in The Gambia. I opened my account in September, and I think we will be considered to get our money.

“I am very much surprised, but happy that they are paying back their clients’ money, which I’m OK with. But I’m very sad because, as you see, the paper they gave us means that they deducted D50 from my own money. Even though they are closing down, they should not deduct my money, because I didn’t ask them to stop operations,” he said.

Christ was another customer who blamed the bank for not meeting the capital requirement of Central Bank of the Gambia, describing this as ‘failure on the side of the bank’, adding that the clients and bank officials have a duty to one another.

“I am happy that I used to save some money, but its not huge, and I’m sure I will receive my money before I leave the bank,” he stated.

This reporter’s efforts, at the time, to track down the bank’s managing director, to get their version of the problem proved futile, since he was told that he was out of the bank.