Empty banking halls as naira shortage worsens


Banking rooms of several commercial banks in Lagos, Osun, Ekiti and other parts of the country saw minimal activity as frustrated customers turned to alternative means of cash withdrawal due to a shortage of naira notes at banks.

Checks made by our correspondents revealed that while most bank rooms were empty due to low funds in bank vaults, large crowds had formed outside some of the few banks rumored to be they were getting ready to charge their ATMs.

At the First Bank Plc branch along Ogunnusi road in Lagos, there were some customers arguing with bank officials who had insisted the branch had run out of cash.

The story was similar at Ecobank, Zenith Bank, GTCO and Access Bank, all located in close proximity to each other along the Ogunnusi road.

However, at Union Bank Plc, also located within the same hub, there were large numbers of commuters jostling in line hoping the bank would charge their ATM.

One of our correspondents then went further down the driveway to Ojodu Grammar School, visiting UBA and Access Bank.

At the United Bank for Africa, the ATM did not dispense cash or pay over the counter.

A bank official, who spoke to our correspondent, said the bank had been restricted from paying out denominations lower than N200 notes due to a CBN directive.

When our correspondent tried to make a withdrawal to collect the lower denominations, he was told that there was no money available, not even a thousand naira.

At Access Bank in the same area, there was no way to pay at the teller, while ATMs did not dispense.

One traveller, Emmanuel Collins, who spoke to our correspondent at Access Bank, adjacent to Ojodu Grammar School, said he had just arrived from the banking room of his bank (UBA).

He had begged to be paid any denomination at his disposal.

He said: “I’ve been to my bank. Since yesterday, they have no cash. They said they don’t have N1000 and N500 tickets. I asked them to pay me, even though they are N50 bills, but they didn’t.”

In the meantime, the punch He also noted that many clients of microfinance banks operating in Osun state on Wednesday threatened to take to the streets in protest over a lack of cash to withdraw.

In some of the microfinance banks visited in Osogbo, many bank officials were not seated, as many clients waited endlessly to withdraw money from their accounts.

Some of the clients claimed to be salaried, who often obtain their monthly salaries through their domiciled accounts at microfinance banks.

Clients, while speaking to our correspondent during visits to Olubasiri Microfinance, Ibuaje Microfinance and Osogbo Microfinance banks, all located within the Osogbo metropolis, threatened to stage a protest if the situation persisted.

But an official at a microfinance bank in Osogbo, speaking on condition, said the Central Bank of Nigeria’s refusal to include microfinance banks in its plan to replace old naira notes with new ones was responsible for the collapse of bank operations. .

When contacted for a reaction, the president of the National Association of Microfinance Banks, Osun State Chapter, Mr. Tunde Lawal, confirmed the collapse of operations of many of the banks which he attributed to a lack of cash. to pay customers.

However, he referred our correspondent to the group’s national leadership for further comment.

Also, a middle-aged woman pleaded with bank officials in Ado Ekiti, the capital of Ekiti state, on Wednesday to save her from dying.

The bank customer had approached the tellers at the First Bank Opopogboro branch to withdraw N9,000 in cash at the counter, but was told that the maximum he could withdraw was N2,000.

All her pleas to the teller to help her obtain the N9,000 cash were unsuccessful as the bank official insisted that this was the instruction that the bank’s customers had been following.

Many bank customers, who were queuing at the ATMs of the different banks in the state capital, which were dispensing a maximum of N20,000, complained, saying they left their business and other important matters to spend their precious time queuing. .

ICPC Monitors Exercise

Operatives from the Independent Commission for Corrupt Practices and Other Related Crimes arrived at two banks in Bauchi state on Tuesday to monitor the cash-out exercise, as the agency said the operation would spread across the country.

Our correspondent deduced that the operation, which is still ongoing, was being carried out by a joint task force made up of agents from the ICPC and its sister anti-bribery agency, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, and staff members of the CBN.

Speaking to our correspondent on Wednesday, a senior CIPC official said: “Yesterday, Tuesday, Bauchi state office commission agents joined the task force along with CBN staff and EFCC agents, to monitor the disbursement of new banknotes. by some commercial banks within the Bauchi metropolis.

Meanwhile, ICPC on Tuesday arrested an Abuja-based woman, Oluwadarasimi Emma, ​​with the Twitter handle @SimisolaGold and the Twitter handle Simisola of Lala, for offering new naira notes for sale on social media. .

The arrest was the result of intelligence received that led CIPC agents to immediately search for and arrest the suspect.

The spokesperson for the anti-corruption agency, Ms. Azuka Ogugua, revealed in a statement obtained by our correspondent on Wednesday night.

Ogugua said, “Oluwadarasimi Emma, ​​a social media ‘serial entrepreneur’ who deals in skin care, fuel sales, foreign travel facilitation through visa acquisition and other businesses, he took the opportunity of the scarcity of the new naira notes to openly market the new notes.

“She is believed to be colluding with key elements in the financial services sector by diverting newly released notes from bank rooms and payment channels to a ‘black market.'”

Ondo’s camera reacts

The Ondo State Chambers of Commerce, Industry, Mines and Agriculture said on Tuesday that the implementation of the new naira policy introduced by the CBN was designed to put micro, small and medium-sized enterprises and the common man out of business.

Lamenting the difficulties caused by the new policy, ONDOCCIMA spokesman Adeboro Onibalusi said in a statement that the policy was bringing down micro, small and medium-sized businesses, adding that access to old and new banknotes had become difficult for business operations in the state. .

atiku speaks

Peoples Democratic Party presidential candidate Atiku Abubakar has urged the Central Bank of Nigeria not to extend the deadline for redemption of the old Naira notes any further.

Atiku also urged the CBN not to ignore the enemies and not succumb to the current pressure it is experiencing.

Atiku revealed this in a statement from his media office on Wednesday saying that there should be no further extension of the old-to-new redemption of naira notes after February 10, which would destroy the purpose and aim of starting the redesign of the currency.

The former vice president would prefer the main bank to assess the measures taken to ensure the smooth flow of the new naira notes to mitigate the difficulties faced by the Nigerian people, especially rural dwellers, who need cash for their daily transactions.

He also said: “However, the CBN must beware of the elite whose motive for clamoring for a further postponement of the deadline for holding the old naira notes is sinister and far from altruistic. I am all for building a cashless economy and reducing the amount of cash in our economy.”

LCCI kicks

Meanwhile, the Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry has said that the CBN’s inability to properly plan and implement the phasing out of the old naira notes has caused great pressure on many businesses.

In a statement signed by its Director General, Chinyere Almona, the chamber noted that the new redesign of the naira had provoked various reactions and comments suggesting that related issues such as the phasing out of old notes, the withdrawal limit and the shortage of notes new might have begun to impact businesses and social livelihoods beyond intentions.

The statement read in part: “With the launch of the redesigned Naira notes last December, expectations were high for a smooth transition to the use of the new notes for commercial transactions across the country.

“We regret to note that expectations have been dashed, trade deals have been hampered and many have experienced lost time and value. The central bank needs to inform the public about the gray areas around the scarcity of the new naira notes in addition to strengthening its policy implementation capacity. This is the minimum expectation in the face of an exchange crisis in which we find ourselves”.

According to the statement, companies have been left to suffer the consequences of CBN’s currency management policy lapses.

“While we support the drive towards a cashless economy, the redesign of the naira and the phasing out of the old notes could have been better planned and implemented without difficulties for businesses and individuals,” the statement further read.



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