Coronavirus Lockdown: Buhari grants limited exemptions to banks, other financial institutions – Officials

Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN)
Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN)

President Muhammadu Buhari has exempted key players in the financial services sector from COVID- 19 movement restrictions, a joint statement by the Minister of Finance and the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) said on Monday.

According to the statement, the Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Zainab Ahmed and Central Bank governor, Godwin Emefiele, appealed to Mr Buhari to enable the financial services sector to render skeletal services.

PREMIUM TIMES reported how Mr Buhari imposed a lockdown, restricting movements in Lagos, Ogun and Abuja.

In a nationwide broadcast on Sunday, the president appealed to Nigerians to observe social distancing as part of measures to curb the spread of coronavirus.

“Based on the advice of the Federal Ministry of Health and the NCDC, I am directing the cessation of all movements in Lagos and the FCT for an initial period of 14 days with effect from 11pm on Monday, 30th March 2020,” he said.

“This restriction will also apply to Ogun State due to its close proximity to Lagos and the high traffic between the two States.”

Only essential services workers such as health workers, food retailers, and journalists were exempted from the lockdown.

The president also urged Nigerians that travel to or from other states should be postponed, while all businesses and offices within the affected locations be fully closed.

Many Nigerians have expressed worries over their businesses and movement since the announcement Sunday night, with others expressing worry over financial transactions.

But in a jointly issued statement, on Monday, titled ”Notice to affected stakeholders and general public regarding COVID-19 and restrictions in movement of persons,” Ms Ahmed and Mr Emwefiele applauded and appreciated the appropriate and proactive restrictions in personal and vehicular movement as a means of curbing the spread of the virus.

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The statement, posted on the verified Twitter handle of the finance ministry, added that the measures are critical to halt the transmission rate and enable health professionals trace infected people.

However, they noted that to ensure that Nigerians can still perform online transactions and use ATMs whilst observing these restrictions, exemptions were obtained from the president to “allow very skeletal operations in the Financial System and Money Markets in order to keep the system in light operations during this time”.

“All relevant staff of affected outfits and agencies should look out for further instructions from their immediate bosses,” the statement said, adding that the two institutions “are mindful of the difficulties these restrictions would bring on ordinary Nigerians and are grateful to the President for approving these exemptions, which should help ease some of these burdens.”

Both officials urged all Nigerians to be patient, cooperative and united as all hands are on deck to defeat this virus.

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