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Pandemonium as angry customers invade bank

By Jimoh Ahmed
Adedotun Aderoboye &
Kayode Afolabi

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Commercial banks in Ondo State are still besieged by cash strapped customers as pandemonium broke out in Ikare Akoko yesterday over the naira crisis.

Reports across the state showed that respite is yet to come for many customers who sought in vain to withdraw money from commercial banks.

Our correspondents in Ikare Akoko observed that many of the bank customers engaged in mad rush and push in a desperate attempt to enter the banking halls.

They shove, twitch and manhandled one another as the struggle for money reached a feverish height yesterday, The Hope correspondent observed.

The quick intervention of security operatives prevented a free for all in the banking hall in the town when a customer jumped the queue.

 Despite the directive of the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN Governor, Godwin Emefiele, that old naira notes will be pumped into circulation to ease the cash scarcity, the situation has not changed.

Rather, the pains and hardships being experienced by the people have continued to worsen, as banks and PoS operators continue to tell their customers that there is no cash to give them.

Consequently, many people in need of cash have been keeping vigil at the banks.

Some people who were lucky were given N5000 after waiting endlessly, while others in other banks went back home empty handed and disappointed.

The usual long queues were still noticed in all the banks at the Alagbaka area of Akure, the Ondo State capital, yesterday.

In Ondo town, the scarcity continued unabated as residents struggled to meet up with their daily cash needs.

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When The Hope visited banks in the town yesterday, crowds of disappointed customers were seen occupying the premises of many of the banks.

It was gathered that most of the banks were not paying cash to customers, while most of the Automated Teller Machines, ATMs visited were also not dispensing and the few that were dispensing cash were overwhelmed.

In one of the banks, customers were only allowed into the banking hall for online transaction, rectification of PoS transaction issues, foreign exchange related transactions and upgrade of accounts. Anyone who wanted to withdraw cash were asked to use the ATM.

Some of the residents who interacted with our correspondent described their experience as harrowing.

A trader who simply identified herself as Mrs. Christianah said “what we heard before the election was that the scarcity is because of politics. Now that the elections are over, why are we still suffering like this?

A POS shop owner who simply identified himself as Kolawole said “the reason why I do not have any money to give to my customers is because I cannot do what many PoS operators are doing. The government cannot be making life difficult for the people and I will adding to it.

“When I hear the amount that we are asked to pay to get money from the banks, there is no way I will pay that amount and not charge people heavily. So, instead of doing that, I decided not to collect the money at all.

“Some PoS operators even buy money from petrol stations and sell to the people at higher rates. Some go to the traders at the market to buy naira notes and sell to people at higher rates. If you cannot do these things, there is no way you will have money to give to customers. That is why the business is not booming for people like us right now.”

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Residents of Ore, the headquarters of Odigbo Local Government Area of Ondo state appealed to Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN Governor, Godwin Emefiele to make the old notes available if the new ones are not.

Some of the residents said : “Now that the elections are over, the old N500, N1000 notes should be recirculated

Report from Ondo North said bank customers now wake up as early as 5.00 am to queue at ATM stands and in banks to get cash.

Mrs Oreoluwa Josephine, a trader who told our reporter that she needed cash to buy foodstuffs for her family, said her children could not go to school because she could not cook for them.

Mrs Oreoluwa who disclosed that she visited her bank for three consecutive days without getting a dime said she had to beg a PoS operator who got her N2000 after paying N600.

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