Buhari exempts banks, others from lockdown

The Minister of Finance and the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) have secured approval from President Muhammadu Buhari to exempt key players in the financial services sector from COVID- 19 movement restrictions.

A statement jointly issued by the Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Mrs. Zainab Ahmed and Central Bank governor, Godwin Emefiele on Monday appealed to President Buhari to enable the financial services sector particularly banks render skeletal services.

President Muhammadu Buhari, on Sunday in his nationwide broadcast, imposed a total lockdown restricting movements in Lagos, Ogun and Abuja.

Addressing Nigerians, the President said: “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.

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

He urged all citizens in these areas to stay in their homes, adding that travel to or from other states should be postponed.

All businesses and offices within these locations should also be fully closed during this period, President Buhari ordered.

In a jointly issued statement Monday by the Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning and CBN governor, entitled: ‘ Notice to affected stakeholders and general public regarding COVID-19 and restrictions in movement of persons”, they applauded and appreciated the appropriate and proactive restrictions in personal and vehicular movement imposed by President Muhammadu Buhari in his speech of Sunday 29 March 2020.

However, the minister and CBN governor noted: ” To ensure that Nigerians can still perform online transactions and use ATMs whilst observing these restrictions, we will like to inform the general public and all affected stakeholders that we have obtained exemptions 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”.

They added: “All relevant staff of affected outfits and agencies should look out for further instructions from their immediate bosses”.

Zainab Ahmed and Godwin Emefiele stated that they “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.”

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

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