MANY dramas have been playing out since the January 31, 2023 date the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) initially announced as deadline for recognising the old N200, N500 and N1,000 notes as legal tender in Nigeria.
Many people have been besieging banks daily to get the new notes but have been enraged by what they meet at both the halls and automated teller machines (ATM).
The scarcity of the new notes implies that most people in the country are finding it difficult to transact and will go hungry. Businesses have suffered, and jobs are threatened.
The ICIR reports that scarcity of the new notes has exposed the weaknesses of internet banking in the country, as transactions across the banks’ channels via the internet and Unstructured Supplementary Service Data (USSD) have largely failed.
There are no funds in the automated ATMs, and some banks can only issue a thousand naira at the counter.
Though the CBN directed that banks pay the new notes, some of the banks maintained that the apex bank did not make the money available to them.
However, there have been reports of banks and operators of point-of-sale (POS) deliberately frustrating the CBN’s efforts to make the new notes get to Nigerians.
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On Saturday, The ICIR reported how Borno State Governor Babagana Zulum threatened to revoke the land of banks failing to issue the new notes without credible reasons.
Videos obtained from social media by The ICIR show people fighting or going naked inside banks in protest against the banks’ failure to make the new notes available. There are others where aggrieved customers damaged banks’ infrastructures or laid on banks’ counters to express their frustrations.
Such incidents would pass for an oddity when things were normal.
A man completely goes nude in one of the videos. He claimed to have deposited N520,000 but could not withdraw new notes.
Wailing profusely, he said he had a wife at the hospital he could not cater to. He also claimed to have four and seven-year-old children he could not attend to because he had no money.
The man pleaded that the police officers appealing to him should shoot him so he could die.
“Please, shoot me; let me die so that I can forget my children and wife,” he told the officers.
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The policemen and others inside the bank convinced him until he returned to a section of the bank where he had dumped his clothes.
In another video, a woman went half-nude in a bank. He had only her bra and tight shorts on.
She said, “Close my account; I don’t need it again. Return my money, I don’t need the account again. My children did not go to school yesterday. They did not also go today.”
There are also two videos of students and soldiers fighting at the University of Benin.
In the first, soldiers and students clashed after the students allegedly stopped the soldiers from jumping the queue at one of the ATMs in the university.
Another video also shows the students beating up a soldier at the university.
In yet another video, some men engaged each other in a banking hall, flinging every available object at each other.
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Videos have also emerged of Nigerians protesting the naira scarcity in Oyo State.
It is unclear what more dramas will unfold in the next few days as President Muhammadu Buhari requested seven days to attend to the issue when governors elected on his party – the All Progressives Congress – visited him in Abuja on Friday, February 3.
Marcus bears the light, and he beams it everywhere. He’s a good governance and decent society advocate. He’s the ICIR Reporter of the Year 2022. Contact him via email @ [email protected]