A couple of months or so ago, I had cause to open an account at Zenith Bank PLC. I already bank elsewhere, but I figured, “It can’t hurt to be a customer of more than one bank, can it?”
Plus you hear they’ve got a couple of awards and recognition(s) here and there, so you’d think they’d be worth it, right?
Let’s check that out for a minute …
According to Zenith Bank’s copy of The 2015 Global Compact Communication on Progress Report, which you can see HERE, they pledge to make sure they are not complicit in human rights abuses (Principle 2). So, you would think you’d be safe, right? I mean there’s a rather nice photo of Peter Amangbo, who is the Group Managing Director, beside a cute blurb which he begins by reaffirming the commitment of the bank to support the Ten Principles … yada, yada, yada. This is right after another statement signed by Jim Ovia – Chairman – confirming that the bank kinda maybe definitely cares about human rights.
However, it would appear that attempted murder isn’t something that Zenith Bank PLC considers to be in the category of ‘human rights abuse’. Weighty ‘allegation’? Maybe. Possibly libellous? That, too. Unless … there’s proof.
John Okeikhan Edobor used to work at the Elf office of Zenith Bank PLC. He was transferred to the Apapa Mobil branch, then to the Risk Department of the Victoria Island office (Ajose Adeogun) in 2014.
Victoria Island in Lagos is the place you want to be; if you can afford it, you want to live there. And if not, well … that’s where you want your business taken care of. They tend to be a lot more polished and knowledgeable on the island … unless there’s a different story. In August 2014, John Edobor kicked his wife – Ivie Edobor – and their very young daughters out of the home that they shared. He took them off his medical insurance plan and sent her emails to verbally and psychologically abuse and taunt her.
The man who works at a bank which has female staff, customers and shareholders told his estranged wife that he was grateful that “she could only give birth to girls”. The salaried staff member of Zenith Bank categorically refused to pay a dime towards his children’s upkeep; after all, they were just girls – therefore, not human enough to warrant something as basic as education. The man who said he was happy to make a new family for himself, spitefully held onto the girls’ birth certificates, in order to prevent or at least delay their registration in any school, as well as inconvenience their mother.
Ivie reached out to Zenith Bank and was roundly ignored.
Unsatisfied with the level of havoc he was wreaking and insistent on “creating a new family”, John Edobor decided to murder Ivie.
On 19 June 2016, John Edobor paid a group of thugs to follow him to Ivie’s residence, where they laid in wait. Ivie returned from her father’s birthday party at about 1.20am. John’s cohorts held her friend down, while John attacked Ivie violently and continuously with a crow bar. By the time they were done, Ivie was bleeding and immobile.
Someone in the Nigerian Police Force (at the Soloki Police Station in Surulere) thought so little of Ivie’s ordeal, that they were happy to charge John Edobor with simple assault and let him go. The man who tried to murder his estranged wife returned to Zenith Bank PLC to work like nothing had happened.
The fact that he didn’t actually kill her, wasn’t for lack of trying – and that is an understatement.
Her injuries have left her incapacitated; she is currently on crutches and makes use of a wheelchair.
Then, there’s the medical bill …
Makes the eyes blink then water of their own accord, doesn’t it?
In all of this, Zenith Bank PLC has remained on John’s side.
Zenith Bank PLC has continued to pay him a salary, with monies, some of which have been invested by female shareholders.
Zenith Bank PLC has continued to show disdain for one gender of Nigerians, by allowing a misogynist with murderous intent to interact with female members of staff, as well as female customers.
While Ivie continues to undergo treatment (including physiotherapy) at huge personal and financial cost, John Edobor is enabled and empowered by his employer to not just get away with this crime, but to potentially commit another heinous crime whenever he pleases. The man who works in the ironically-named Risk Department of Zenith Bank PLC is a walking, breathing, talking risk to every female customer, not to mention female member of staff.
There is nothing inaccurate or libellous about these observations. Actually, they are more than mere observations or speculation; they constitute fact.
It is impossible that Zenith Bank PLC hasn’t heard anything about this.
Ivie reached out to Mrs Oladoyin Olugbuyi (whose LinkedIn profile lists her as Deputy General Manager, but is now the GM, Group Head of HR at Zenith Bank) and met a sliver of the wall of the complicit silence, which Zenith Bank has exhibited so far.
Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) is a cute term that many organisations use to justify some expenses to their shareholders. Or it could be a genuine attempt to reach out to the community. In the case of Zenith Bank PLC, the hype of N35m and women’s basketball cannot hide the truth – which is that every Nigerian woman should be concerned about a bank, where violence against women isn’t just OK, but is also rewarded.
The laughable assault charge has now been amended to what it should have been in the first place: attempted murder. It’s late in coming, but the law is calling it as it is. Who knows whether Zenith Bank PLC will take a cue? Because John Edobor – at the time of writing this – is still at large. So, if you’re a woman who has cause to be in the Victoria Island branch of Zenith Bank PLC on any day of the week, you might want to protect yourself; if a man can attempt to murder the mother of his kids so publicly and his employer continues to support him, what do you think they will endorse against you when you’re just a cash cow? Because at Zenith Bank PLC, ‘human rights abuse’ is just a poxy, little, inconsequential phrase.