CBL suspends him for time indefinite
Although police spokesman H. Moses Carter’s mobile phone had remained switched off up to press time last night, the Daily Observer reliably gathered that officers of the Liberia National Police (LNP) are holding Ayodeji Bejide, managing director (MD) of Guaranty Trust Bank (GT Bank) Liberia, in custody on the charge of physical assault against an employee of the bank.
Due to the severity of the wounds he inflicted on Edward Freeman, the assaulted employee who was on active duty, police will subsequently forward Bejide to court for prosecution.
On Tuesday, August 28, a video shared on Facebook shows Mr. Freeman bleeding from his lips in Bejide’s office after Bejide reportedly threw a calculator at him, allegedly wounding him on his lips.
After reportedly wounding Mr. Freeman, Bejide was heard in the video telling the employee to calm down, threatening to dismiss him if he made any further comment.
Mr. Freeman then walked out of Bejide’s office at the end of the video. The GT Bank MD, who is a Nigerian, is said to be in the constant habit of insulting employees, a situation which has led to series of resignations at the bank.
When contacted, Mr. Freeman declined to speak on the issue as he is seeking legal redress. Many persons, who commented on the video posted on social media, expressed outrage at Mr. Freeman’s ordeal.
They said Nigerian employers are often aggressive toward their Liberian counterparts, addressing them in any manner and form.
Former GT Bank Liberia employees (names withheld) who spoke to the Daily Observer via mobile phone, said Bejide is noted for verbal assaults against employees, especially Liberians.
But some employees informed this paper that victim Freeman was assaulted for not submitting a report on time as mandated by Bejide, following a review of the Board of Directors in its August 2018 sitting.
A female employee told the Daily Observer that she resigned because of Bejide’s behavior, especially toward female staffers. She said Bejide looks down on employees and senior staffers as though they are his kids, and addresses them however he feels, in spite of one’s assignment and status.
A statement issued last evening by authorities of the Central Bank of Liberia (CBL), announced that Bejide has been suspended for time indefinite from the bank, with immediate effect and without pay, “pending a thorough investigation by the Board into the allegations.”
In the meantime, CBL has appointed Amazu Nwachukwy, GT Bank’s Chief Operating Officer, as Acting MD until the investigation is concluded.
The release quoted Nathaniel R. Patray, III, Chairman of the Board of Governors and Executive Governor of CBL, that the appointment of Mr.Nwachukwu will remain in force until the conclusion of the investigation; submission to the CBL within 48 hours of the Board’s intended course of action to address “this grave matter.”
The CBL will henceforth, review the GT Bank Board’s recommendations. Thereafter, it will ensure the strictest implementation of the Bank’s mitigated actions.
According to the Central Bank of Liberia, the GT Bank Board has conveyed its deep regrets for the alleged incident, and has further informed the CBL that a senior executive from its parent company, GT Bank Nigeria, will arrive in Liberia on Wednesday, August 29, 2018, to assist in the investigation.
Labor Minister’s position statement
At the same time, the Ministry of Labor (MoL) has also condemned Bejide’s action, terming it as “unacceptable.”
“We are not only deeply concerned by Bejide’s alleged action, but have also contacted the Ministry of Justice through the LNP to thoroughly investigate the matter.
“The police have already taken the suspect into custody, considering the possible criminal nature of this case,” the release said.
MoL further said that in keeping with the relevant procedural laws of Liberia where criminal actions take precedence over civil actions, the ministry will be informed by the outcome of the ongoing criminal investigation in the matter.
Meanwhile, the ministry emphasizes to all employers and employees that the Decent Work Act of Liberia in Section 14.3 (d) reserves its most severe sanctions for persons who breach the fundamental rights of another employee or attacks, batters, threatens, or intimidates his or her co-workers.
The ministry said that they will not hesitate to effect the utmost penalties on persons who flagrantly violate the Decent Work Act, and calls on all employers and employees to behave in keeping with law.
GT Bank’s Reaction
“We have received with total reprehension a report about the assault of one of our members of staff and wish to inform the public that we have immediately commenced a thorough investigation into the matter in accordance with professional standard and international best practices,” the GT Bank said in release late Tuesday evening.
The release, which is written under the signature of Alexandra Zoe, Head, Legal/Company Secretary, said at GT Bank Liberia, “we do not condone any form of assault in the workplace nor do we compromise on our principle that every staff should be able to come to work without fear of violence, abuse or harassment from any member of our staff.”
Indeed, at the core of our value is the premium we put on the welfare of our members of staff and their safety in the workplace.
As a law abiding organization and corporate citizen, GT Bank Liberia maintains a ‘zero tolerance’ attitude towards violence or assault of any kind and we will not hesitate to take action against any staff who is found to be in breach of the bank strict code of conduct, regardless of their position in the organization.
The bank also maintains very active structures to provide all necessary care and assistance to any member of staff who is a victim of assault.
Once again, “we wish to reassure all members of the public that the bank remains committed [to] ensuring a safe and conducive environment for its staff and providing best-in-class services to its customers.”