This article is intended to provide clarity on an article written in two parts in this column on August 28 and September 3, 2014. The article- the Way Banks Treat Their Customers, which placed specific emphasis on Ecobank because of the unending problems, strived to only alert the bank’s management on a few of the difficulties customers undergo in accessing the various accounts so that measures already in place are either strengthened or multiplied. The article also noted that not that these challenges did not exist at other commercial banks and their branches in Monrovia and elsewhere in Liberia, but the alarming frequency of these problems at Ecobank was discouraging enough to be raised, owing to my personal encounters and those of other customers on a number of occasions over a period of time.
A few days following the September 3, 2014 publication of the article, gentleman from the United Bank of Africa or UBA engaged me on an issue of which I would have ‘never’ thought- in other words, a surprise to me because this something I have never done in my professional life as journalist . That issue was an allegation that the UBA had sponsored the article-The Way Banks Treat Their Customers, against Ecobank, i.e, the UBA had “paid” the New Dawn or the writer to portray a negative image of Ecobank in the eyes of the public.
According to the gentleman, whose name I may not just remember even though he actually works for the UBA, his boss lady-perhaps the Managing Director or General Manager, who was out of the country at the time, had been informed by the current Managing Director of Ecobank-Liberia that her institution was engaged in a smear campaign against his through the sponsorship of an article published in the New Dawn Newspaper -an allegation that prompted his engagement with me.
Though I did not want to grant his inquiry considering the fact that it was a non-issue, I had to give me the benefit of his doubt by discounting whatever he or his boss lady may have been told. For any professional journalist or media institution to allow himself or herself or itself to be used against another individual or institution, I said to the gentleman, is tantamount not only to ethical violation, but mercenary journalism- and I or the New Dawn Newspaper would never be involved in such, considering my status in the Liberian media sector. Even if I had any relationship, in any manner and form, with UBA-(which I truly don’t have), I would not done such.
All I attempted doing was to raise the alarm to the management of Ecobank so as to take the necessary additional measures to strengthen/re-enforce what it already had in place against the challenges with which it was confronted, including internal theft, un-necessary excuses-persistent system break-down, etc., etc.- that’s all. It was neither sponsored by UBA nor intended to mortgage the image of Ecobank, I said to him.
And if and only if such grave allegation, that has also filtered down negatively to certain quarters of the banking and media sectors, was truly made by the Managing Director of Ecobank, I will have to RESPOND after verification. But for the sake of clarity to the UBA personnel who interacted with me on the matter, I have to do because my integrity and that of the New Dawn Newspaper matter most.