Anger spreads over scarcity of new naira notes in circulation

Anger spreads over scarcity of new naira notes in circulation

several bank customers on Sunday expressed anger visibly as they became frustrated over their inability to access the new notes to pay for basic needs and services.

Also, members of the organised private sectors expressed anger over lack of adequate new notes in circulation, insisting that the central bank must use the extended period to provide more new notes for the public.

The developments came as more retailers and shop owners rejected the old notes amid long queues of customers in banking halls across the country.

Lengthy queues and new naira scarcity have triggered anger and frustration among many Nigerians, who find it challenging to get the new notes for their regular transactions.

Findings by The PUNCH showed that many could not access the new notes at the ATMs while several retailers and shop rejected the old notes over fear that they might not be able to exchange ahead of the deadline.

Many Nigerians expressed anger and frustration just as the scarcity of the N1000, N500 and N200 old notes left many stranded.

One of our correspondents, who visited a First Bank branch in Akowonjo area of Lagos, saw long queues of customers seeking to withdraw cash from the ATMs. They were however, disappointed due to lack cash in the ATMs.

Several customers including some of our correspondents had to borrow money from friends and acquaintances to enable them to pay for purchases.

Speaking to one our correspondents, Okupu Ikoh, a security official at First Bank in Ikeja, said he could not withdraw both the new and old notes in several ATMs he visited in the Ikeja axis.

He said, “I went to a First Bank ATM and there was no money, not even the old notes. Now, I have been to Heritage Bank, GTB and but could not get any cash to withdraw. The banks did not load their ATMs with new notes. They also refused to load the ATMs with old notes due to fear of CBN sanction. We are in a dilemma and I am very angry over this.”

A bar owner, Olaiya Adekemi, who visibly angry, told The PUNCH she stopped accepting old notes from her customers because she found it difficult to exchange them for new notes in the bank she visited.

She said, “I have told my customers I will not accept the old notes from them again. I cannot go and keep queuing again. I would rather lock up my shop and let my goods stay here till the government comes up with what they want to do over this currency matter. This is very annoying. The government is inflicting pains on us.”

Adelowo Oyebamidele, an Ikoyi-based mason said the government planned to punish Nigerians by refusing to release enough new notes into circulation.

He said, “This is not good for Nigerians at the moment. We have been queuing up at the banks for cash, our own money for that matter. The government knows that it is not easy to exchange currency and looking at the time frame, they should extend it because we cannot lose our money for nothing.”

The PUNCH also observed that some bars across some cities in Lagos including those in the Yaba and Mile 2 axis have stopped accepting old notes since Saturday.

A Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation fuel station along Liasu Road, Idimu, Lagos, on Saturday, refuses to sell fuel to customers with old currency.

They insisted that customers could make use of PoS for payment.

A resident of Sango Ota who gave his name as, Yusuf, in a chat with one of our correspondents, said, “Imagine in my area, a fuel station stopped selling the products because they don’t want to collect old notes. I almost became stranded.

It was also observed that operators of PoS now charge higher to deposit old notes even though they don’t have new notes to give.

Our correspondent, who visited five lenders in Lagos cities, namely Ojodu, Isolo, Egbeda, Mushin and Igando, observed that none of the ATMs dispensed cash as commuters continued to move from machine to machine, hoping to catch a lucky break.

The banks are Access Bank, Zenith, Union Bank, First and Ecobank in Ojodu, the Ojodu area-

Our correspondent then proceeded to Ajah, where he visited two banks — Sterling Bank at Ikota complex and Wema Bank, Ilaje. While the Sterling Bank ATM did not dispense cash, there was a crowd of commuters arguing fiercely at Wema Bank, with many trying to break into the queue and withdraw some cash out of fear that the machine might soon run out of cash.

The situation was much worse at Sterling Bank in Awoyaya, where commuters were seen getting into heated physical exchanges as cash was being loaded into the bank ATMs.

While speaking with our correspondent, an official at Sterling Bank said security agents had to be deployed in its Awoyaya branch to get the crowd in line as the verbal altercations degenerated into physical violence.

The source said, “Many banks did not load their ATMs today. At our branch (Awoyaya) the crowd there was very wild. The people just refused to obey the simple rules of queuing up. Everybody wants to withdraw at the same time. We had to bring in external security to get the crowd in check.”

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