ATP - There was confusion at a certain microfinance bank located on Atitebi Junction on the Old Apapa Road, in the Oyingbo area of Lagos state when no fewer than 200 women got to the bank where they had allegedly opened accounts but discovered it was deserted.
According to Punch, the police in the State are on the trail of the employees of the said bank who allegedly defrauded the women of their savings.
The bank, which reportedly used a three-room apartment in a storey building at the junction, started giving out forms around September to the victims, who were mostly market women.
Reports say the aggrieved women who were given forms and account booklets where savings were ticked after each deposit, had been told by the bank to come last Monday to get loans after making three months’ savings, only to discover that the bank officials were nowhere to be found.
While some of the women reportedly deposited N21, 000 hoping to be given loans of N150, 000, others were said to have paid in N15, 000 to be lent N100, 000. Some others also deposited N7, 500 hoping to be lent N50, 000.
However, trouble started when some of the women who had been told to come for their money on Friday, got to the bank at about 10am and met the rooms under lock and key. They were said to have raised the alarm and started to call other women who were customers.
Policemen from the Iponri division were said to have arrived to pacify the women and enjoined them to make a formal report for investigation, because the wailing women caused a gridlock on the road, during which some of them put calls through to the phone numbers on the form, but the lines were reportedly switched off.
Speaking on the incident, one of the women, who identified herself as Yakubu Rukayat, said she had deposited N15, 000, and brought her sister to contribute N21, 000 hoping to get the loans.
According to her, “Over 200 of us were affected. We were shocked to meet their doors locked on a Monday. The rooms are empty. The door is locked. Look at the form I filled and the passbook they gave me. I deposited N15, 000, and I also brought my sister to pay in N21, 000.
“Most of us are market women from Oyingbo, Makoko and Ebute Meta. On Friday, I still came to the bank and people were depositing the money. I noticed that one of the officials, a lady, asked people to hurry so that they could take their forms for processing. We did not know it was a scam. How will I get all my money back?”
One Iyaniwura, another victim, lamented she had hoped to use the loan to pay her house rent, and to expand her business. She claimed to have deposited N21, 000 too.
However, the Lagos State Police Public Relations Officer, PPRO, DSP Joe Offor, who confirmed that the market women had reported the matter to the police, said the police had invited the landlord of the property for questioning and efforts were on to get the runaway officials of the microfinance bank.
Offor said, “The DPO led policemen to the scene and appealed to the women not to cause violence.
The police have invited the landlord who gave the place to the so-called microfinance bank for questioning,” the PPRO added.
He said all efforts are being made to apprehend the officials of the bank.