Polaris Bank has come under heavy criticism after one of its managers identified as Damilola Adebara, wrote a memo banning Muslim staff in her department from observing their Friday prayers.
In the memo cited by BizWatch Nigeria, Polaris Bank stated that its staff observing the Jumu’ah prayer acted in ignorance, and anyone that flouts the ban would be dealt with going forward.
The leaked memo read: “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 workflow 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.”
The ban of Muslim staff members from observing their Friday prayers has however plunged the bank into serious criticism, with customers of the same religion thronging the banking all of Polaris Bank across Nigeria to close their accounts.
Distancing itself from the memo, Polaris Bank’s management, in a statement addressed to members of the public, said the order wasn’t its decision, adding that Adebara acted in ignorance.
While noting that Nigeria is a secular state, the financial institution maintained that the supervisor’s action does not reflect the corporate identity of the Bank.
“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,” the bank said.