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Bank customers lament withdrawal limit

By Maria Famakinwa

Commercial bank customers across Akure, Ondo State capital have expressed discontent over the unanticipated reductions in withdrawal limits for both over-the-counter transactions and Automated Teller Machine (ATM) withdrawals.

Several customers, including Point of Sale (POS) attendants, who spoke with The Hope lamented the inconvenience caused by the sudden reduction in withdrawal limits despite the Supreme court ruling that the old and new notes should remain as legal tender beyond December 31 until the Federal Government puts a process in place for their replacement or redesign after due consultation with relevant stakeholders.

Bank customers also expressed concerns about the lack of communication from their respective banks regarding the changes, leaving them in the dark about the reasons behind the adjustment. Moving round some banks in Alagbaka, long queues were observed at ATMs dispensing cash while others ATMs were not operating. Some of the customers who spoke with The Hope appealed to the authority concerned to do everything possible to address the problem especially now that the yuletide season is approaching.

A civil servant, Mr Jose Adaramola, wondered why it was difficult for him to get the money he kept in his account. “I have been using POS for days now and it is not advisable at all. Aside the fact that it is not safe, how much will I spend to withdraw like N20,000 now that most POS attendants have increased their charges? We thought that the era of using money to buy money was gone with the past administration but we can now see that we are wrong.

“The hardship being experienced by average Nigerians are daily multiplied with no respite in sight. We cannot buy petrol, foodstuffs prices are unaffordable for common man, how can one survive coupled with the era of using money to buy money? Why will bankers dictate to me how much I can withdraw from my account? It is high time they look into this because a lot of Nigerians are already frustrated,” he said.

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Sharing a similar sentiment, a trader, Mrs Grace Omoh, disclosed that bank officials have adopted the system of reducing their withdrawals based on the amount they intended to withdraw. The woman who also appealed to the Federal Government to act quickly before the situation gets out of control reminded them that some innocent souls were lost due to similar issue early this year which many are yet to recover from.

She said: “It’s been difficult these days for us to withdraw at the bank because immediately you enter the bank, they will always tell you the amount you can withdraw is N15,000 or N10,000. I was mad when my bank told me that I could only get N10,000 when I needed N50,000. How can someone who need N50,000 manage N10,000? Remember that this was how it started in February this year when we used money to buy money. Thank God we survived it because some could not live to tell the pains they went through. I don’t want such to repeat itself. Not even now that Christmas is coming and one will need money for many things. They should please do something to make cash available across the country.”

A POS operator, Mr Bola Akinwale, explained that he comes to the bank everyday but always disappointed. “ I’m running a POS center. How would I be able to give customers cash when they come for fifty thousand, a hundred thousand? This is what we have been going through in the last few days now.

“We discovered that anytime we want to go and withdraw the money inside the bank, they have reduced the withdrawal limit whereby it even affects us. Yesterday when I went inside the bank to withdraw, they only gave me N10,000. The money is not enough for me as a POS operator. I complained to one of the bankers and he promised to help me the next day that I should be there early but when I went there the following day, he said he could only help me to get N20,000. It’s frustrating for us. I depend on money made from my POS business to survive. With this idea of giving bank customers N10,000, how can I get high patronage? I also observed that some customers who know bank officials get preferential treatment but I don’t know any of them who can help me out in this issue. Even if I do, I see it as a wrong move to lobby someone before I can get money I kept in my account. I just pray that the issue is resolved soon.”

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Another bank customer, Mr Friday, also expressed his displeasure to withdraw only N10,000 from the ATM which he described as punishment. “The CBN should do the needful to end this suffering. I need cash to attend to some urgent needs. Though, Nigerians have been advised to embrace electronic transfer, I put it to you that in some cases you can’t do transfer. I wanted to withdraw money yesterday but none of the ATM machines in the area was dispensing. I decided to wait at the bus stop to beg commercial drivers to allow me transfer my transport money to them, none of them agreed. After staying close to an hour, I started begging drivers to assist me just to get home because it was already late. Thank God that one of the passengers offered to pay for me. In situations like that, one need cash and not transfer.”

Reacting to the issue, a bank official, who crave anonymity explained that before the pronouncement by the apex court that both old and new notes should be accepted as legal tender, Deposit Money Banks struggled to obtain new currency from the Central Bank of Nigeria and were compelled to distribute funds deposited by customers. According to him, things will return to normal since the order have been given that old and new notes should be accepted. He however advised customers to use alternative channels to carry out their transactions pending when the problem would be finally resolved.

His words : “What we have resorted to doing is to encourage our customers to use alternative channels and give them the little we have on the ground. Currently, we are at the end of the year. The demand is huge and we have to balance it. The CBN hasn’t been giving us enough cash in recent times especially since the surge in demand started some weeks ago. Hopefully, the issue will be resolved soon due to the apex court order that the old and new naira notes should be accepted as legal tender. Customers should please bear with us,” he pleaded.

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