Contrary to reports in a section of the Nigerian media, the management of First Bank of Nigeria Plc has said some of its branches in Edo State were shut to uphold the rule of law and not on any tax issue with the state government.
The bank, which regrets the incident, said it was informed by the management insistence on “obeying the rule of law and not for tax-related issues as erroneously reported by certain media organisations”
FirstBank’s spokesperson, Mrs. Folake Ani-Mumuney, said the bank remains an institution that has held the finest tradition of good corporate citizenship since its inception in 1894.
“The issue on ground is clearly not related to tax payment as the bank is up to date in terms of fulfilling all its obligations in Edo State as well as other states of the federation.
"The bank’s stand of not contravening an order of a court of concurrent jurisdiction on the status of a Power Holding Company of Nigeria (PHCN) account domiciled in First Bank is at the heart of the issue and it is unfortunate that our customers are being denied access to the bank in an issue where the bank is merely a third party.”
According to Ani-Mumuney, First Bank was served an order by a Benin High Court at the instance of Edo State Board of Inland Revenue with respect to a customer’s account which had been frozen in compliance with an earlier injunction of a Lagos High Court.
“First Bank as a law abiding citizen is only obeying an existing court order that is yet to be variated or vacated. At First Bank, we align with globally accepted best practices and work in the best interest of our customers in accordance with the regulations of the sector and the rule of Law.
"This unflinching commitment to our customers is the reason we are working with all parties to ensure that our customers are spared further inconveniences,” she added.