Aggrieved customers of Black Shield Capital, formerly Gold Coast Fund Management (GCFM), on Wednesday took to the streets in protest of delays in payment of their deposits and to insist on their inclusion in the first phase of the bailout payment.
They pitched camp near the Head Office of the Registrar-General’s Department in Accra amid heavy police presence, who stopped them from entering the premises of the Department.
Sections of the road leading to the area were blocked, leading to vehicular traffic, as the scores of customers, clad in red, chanted: “we want our monies back,” “No money no vote,” “We are all involved.”
The Ghana News Agency (GNA) gathered that the customers were marching to present a petition to the Registrar-General, Mrs Jemima Oware, but they were told to present it to her Deputy outside the yard in order not to disrupt other official activities.
Close to three hours, the Coalition of Aggrieved Customers, led by Mr Charles Nyame, insisted on meeting the Registrar-General herself but were prevented by the police.
Most of them held placards, some of which read: “Mr President, listen to the cry of the vulnerable,” and “We need Government’s bailout now to live…”
The demonstrators, the women especially, sat on the street without facemasks, not observing social distancing and shouting to get their voices heard.
The GNA spotted a pregnant woman, who sat in the middle of street, carrying a placard with the inscription: “Mr President, We can’t breathe.”
Mr Samuel Pimpong, a Retired Police Officer and a member of the Coalition, appealed to government to pay the members their monies without delay because “their lives keep deteriorating.”
He said he served the Ghana Police Service for 36 years adding that he was suffering from prostate cancer and needed funds to seek quality medical care.
Mr Pimpong, in an interview with the Ghana News Agency in Accra on the sidelines of a press conference organised by the Coalition on Tuesday, said: “I need money badly to undergo surgery.”
The press conference was organized to draw government’s attention to why customers of GCFM needed to be included in the first phase of the bailout payment.
The 63-year old Retired Policeman said he had been suffering from the illness for over a year, adding that he invested GHC100,000 of his pension gratuity in the Fund.
Mr Nyame, the Public Relations Officer of the Coalition, on his part, said the reasons given by the Government for excluding GCFM customers from the first phase of the bailout package was “incomprehensible.”
“Issues of financial freedom are economic rights issues and economic right is fundamental human rights,” he said.
He said the customers were being denied the right to life and that the only crime they had committed was their decision as Ghanaians to invest in a licensed indigenous Ghanaian institution.
Mr Nyame said majority of the customers were pensioners, widows and aged; 65 years and above, and they could not continue to sit aloof while many of their customers continue to lose their lives as a result of financial crisis.
“The fact that a liquidation order has not been secured because GCFM is in court contesting the revocation of their license does not presuppose that innocent Ghanaians must continue to die,” he added.
Mr Albert N.K. Ackom, an 80-year old man, said he had to visit the hospital for regular check-ups and reviews but he had no money and appealed to the Government to pay their locked up funds.
The banking sector clean-up exercise, carried out by the Bank of Ghana in 2017 and 2018, was followed by the shutdown of some 386 microfinance and money lending institutions.
Subsequently, 23 non-bank financial institutions, made up of savings and loans companies and finance houses, had their licenses revoked over several regulatory breaches including the inability to pay customers’ deposits.
Government has assured a 100 per cent restoration of locked-up funds once each depositor had been verified with reports of 98 per cent depositors of collapsed banks, microfinance companies paid.
The GNA gathered that GCFM customers and others were exempted from Government’s first phase of the bailout package because a liquidation order had not been secured after they went to court contesting the revocation of their licenses.