One of Nigeria’s commercial banks, Polaris Bank, has been criticised after one of its managers asked Muslim staff in her unit not to perform Friday prayers.
In a leaked email, one of the bank’s supervising staff, Damilola Adebara, said the bank does not have a policy that allows any employee to go for religious activities during work hours.
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The email suggested that the staff are working under its YES centre, a branch of its customer service.
The mail read in part: “Dear All, It has been observed that on Fridays, you leave your work desks to attend the Jumat service bearing in mind the impact of your absence on the work flow and productivity of Yes Center.”
“Kindly note that there is no provision made anywhere in the Bank’s policy for employees to attend any religious activities during work hours. Going forward such permissions would not be granted on the Yes Center platform and any infraction of this directive would be dealt with accordingly. You are all expected to acknowledge the receipt of this mail. Thank you.”
Reacting to the mail, the bank in a statement said the staff submission does not represent its position as a corporate entity.
While stating that it adheres to Nigeria being a secular state, the bank does not have a policy that restricts practice of religion.
“The attention of the Bank has been drawn to a shared screenshot of mail sent by a supervisor to staff in her department in respect of Friday prayers.”
“This is to clarify that Nigeria is a secular nation and our Bank is guided by this standard. Accordingly, there is no policy in the Bank that forbids staff from practicing the religion of their choice; hence the said staff had acted in ignorance and we have since addressed the issue internally.”
“We assure all staff, customers, and the public that we will continue to respect the fundamental rights and freedom of worship of every employee.”
A cross section of comments on the bank’s reaction show criticism of the bank
A Twitter user with the handle Coolex said “This bank (Polaris) does not like Muslims. A staff of the bank is threatening her subordinates that they should not go to jumuat prayers. Damilola I. Adebara muslims are watching you. We were created to serve God not Polaris.”
Yusuf Shehu Ahmodu stated that the situation is “applicable to all banks in Nigeria except Zenith and Union Bank.”
“This happened to me during my days in Diamond Bank. I had to beg, kneeling for my supervisor before She could allowed me to go and pray.”
Also, Isma’eel Musa said “I was about to offer an advice, especially to Muslim, not invest or trade with any Bank where workers’ right (Muslim and Christian) alike are not protected.”
Samson Ogunsakin said, “it is well, In Polaris Bank, supervisors are next to God.. Subordinate are unfortunate.”
Habibu Bawa noted that “Ignorance is not an excuse, what actions will be/ have been taken on the supervisor for acting ignorantly?”