Cash Crunch: 3 killed as protests break out in 8 States, FCT

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Yesterday morning, three people lost their lives as a result of violent protests that broke out in some parts of Nigeria, giving the ongoing shortage of Naira notes a dangerous new dimension.

When residents of Benin City, the capital of Edo State, were unable to access their money in commercial banks, they became enraged and took to the streets in protests that resulted in fatalities after security personnel used live ammunition and tear gas to disperse the disorderly crowds.

A protester’s body was laid to rest in front of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) amid intermittent gunfire and tear gas discharges from soldiers and police.
The protesters had attempted to break into the CBN state branch, which is situated on Akpakpava Street, the hub of business activity in Benin City and the location of the majority of commercial banks. After that, they launched an assault on a few nearby commercial banks.

The enraged, advancing crowds, who also set bonfires along the main road of Akpakpava and other nearby streets, attacked no fewer than seven banks at the time this report was filed.
The enraged demonstrators also attacked any ATM they came across with their rage and frustration.
Commercial banks affected by the fire on Akpakpava street include United Bank for Africa (UBA), Sterling Bank, Wema Bank, Guaranty Trust Bank (GTB), Zenith Bank, First Bank, and Stanbic Bank.
Shop owners in the neighborhood immediately closed their doors and left. To disperse the protesters and clear the road of burning tires so that other drivers could pass, heavily armed security personnel from the Nigerian Police and the military had to work together.

One of the protesters yelled, “How do you expect people to survive? ” along Akpakpava. Due to a pointless policy, people cannot access their money that is in banks. People no longer accept the old naira, and we are in need of new currency as well as food and rest.

“They are doing this to cancel the upcoming elections,” a different protester remarked. The country is ours collectively, so we cannot carry on in this manner. Why are they making us suffer for no fault of ours?”
When contacted, Chidi Nwabuzor, the public relations officer for the Edo State Police, acknowledged the incident but declined to comment on the protest until after his men had given him a field report.

Read Also: Breaking: Buhari approves old N200 note to remain in circulation until April 10

blame for the violent protest is shared by the Edo government and Oshiomhole

The former governor of Edo State, Adams Oshiomhole, was demanded to be detained immediately yesterday after the Edo State Government accused him of organizing the demonstration against the shortage of naira notes that rocked parts of Benin City.

However, a media representative for the former governor, Victor Oshioke, has cleared his boss of inciting any protest, adding that Oshiomhole was preoccupied with campaigning for his presidential candidate and his senatorial aspirations.
Chris Nehikhare, the commissioner for communication and orientation for the Edo State, made the allegation during a press conference in Benin. He based it on a recent viral video, according to which the former governor allegedly gave instructions to his supporters to attack perceived political rivals in the upcoming general elections.

Nehikhare claimed that research among the protesters revealed that, in addition to the shortage of naira notes, Oshiomhole is accused of having instigated the demonstration with the knowledge that his party would lose the upcoming general elections.

He declared, “We have spent the entire day touring the city and speaking to protesters. We have also conducted in-depth investigations and found that there is more going on than first appears. I want the security organizations to get in touch with the late governor Adams Oshiomhole to ask him some questions.
“He should be arrested and made to account for his movement in the last few days. Oshiomhole deliberately instigated the protest and I am sure you are all aware that a few days ago, a video showed Oshiomhole instigating people in Benin City to go on rampage and bring anarchy to our state because his government and his party, APC, are about to lose the forthcoming election.”

The commissioner further pointed out that even if the reason was the scarcity of the naira, it was a policy of the APC, the same party that is now destroying PDP billboards in Edo State.

“While they said they were protesting against the naira policy, a gantry that is over 50 feet high was destroyed by APC supporters. PDP Is not the government that is responsible for the policy; those responsible is the APC and it is clear that this is politically motivated and we are pointing fingers directly at Adams Oshiomhole as a result of what he said of unleashing his ‘lions and tigers’ to go completely against the laws of the land because he wants to desperately be part of the next government,” he said.

But Oshiomhole’s spokesman said, “Oshiomhole is busy campaigning for the APC presidential candidate and his senatorial ticket and did not instigate anybody to riot. Oshiomhole didn’t make any statement to suggest that anybody should riot against anybody.

“He has no time to call for violence because the people love him. The Edo State government is rattled and nervous by the acceptance Oshiomhole gets anywhere he goes to in Edo state.”

There was also protest by some Abuja residents.

Meanwhile, President Muhammadu Buhari will make a national broadcast today by 7am.

This is contained in a statement issued by presidential spokesman, Femi Adesina.
In order to broadcast, he urged radio stations, television stations, and other electronic media outlets to connect to the network services of Radio Nigeria and the Nigerian Television Authority.

The country’s naira crisis, which had caused violence to erupt in some states, was thought to be related to the broadcast, it was learned.

Supreme Court upholds decision to suspend Naira Swap

The Supreme Court has maintained that its February 8 order prohibiting the federal government and its agencies from enforcing the February 10 deadline for the use of old 200, 500, and 1000 naira notes remains in effect.
After receiving a complaint that the federal government and its agencies had disregarded the order and had allegedly ordered the rejection of the old notes, Abdulhakeem Mustapha (SAN), a lawyer to the states of Kaduna, Kogi, and Zamfara, requested that the supreme court reiterate its order.

The federal government’s naira swap policy is being contested in court by nine additional states, who were added as parties during the proceedings by the supreme court.

The apex court joined the attorneys general of Katsina, Lagos, Ondo, Ogun, Ekiti, Cross River, and Sokoto States as co-plaintiffs in its ruling, while the attorneys general of Edo and Bayelsa States were joined as co-respondents. The seven-member panel that made the decision was chaired by Justice John Okoro.
However, the states of Rivers and Kano each asserted that their particular cases were distinct from one another, insisting that they raised novel legal issues that weren’t included in the initial plaintiffs’ requests for a ruling.

The two states argued that, in addition to the problem with the old banknotes, they had a problem with the N5 million and N100,000 cash withdrawal limits that the CBN approved for corporations and individuals, respectively.
Due to the recent development in the case, a seven-person panel of court justices mandated that the states of Kogi, Kaduna, and Zamfara amend their original originating summons to reflect the new states it added as parties interested in the case.
The panel headed by Justice Inyang Okoro equally directed the plaintiffs to ensure that they file and serve all the respondents with the relevant processes before Friday, even as it adjourned further proceedings in the matter till Wednesday next week.

The apex court said it would consolidate all the cases, stressing that all the states would abide by its decision on the matter.

Meanwhile, before the matter was adjourned, counsel for the three northern states that initiated the litigation, Mr. AbdulHakeem Mustapha, SAN, drew attention of the apex court to the fact that its ex-parte order that restrained the federal government from implementing the February 10 deadline for the use of the old banknotes was flouted.

Mustapha told the court that contrary to the order, CBN had since invalidated the old N200, N500 and N1000 notes.He, therefore, pleaded the apex court to reinstate the interim order, saying he had also filed a process to reflect FG’s disobedience to the court order.

Reacting on behalf of the federal government, a former AGF, Chief Kanu Agabi, SAN, told the apex court that Mustapha’s claim was within the realm of “mere rumour”.

CBN Issues Guidelines For Depositing Old Notes

Also yesterday, the CBN opened the portal for individuals who have old notes to deposit to fill up forms despite the Supreme Court adjourning the case on the legality of the February 10, 2023 deadline for the old notes to remain legal tender.

On the portal which is open on cbn.gov.ng, depositors are required to fill in their Bank Verification Number (BVN), phone number, email address, bank details, address, the amount to be deposited as well as the denominations to be deposited, after which a reference number is generated.

A guideline on the depositing of the N200, N500 and N1,000 old notes commenced yesterday and is expected to run till Friday February 17.

To deposit their old notes at the CBN branches, customers would be required to have a completed online application form, copy of valid means of identification and a completed teller. Once the account is verified, the equivalent of the cash would then be deposited in the customers account.
“The CBN branches do not create individual accounts. As a result, holders of the old, redesigned notes must have an open account with a Deposit Money Bank (Commercial Bank).

Individuals who want to deposit their old, redesigned notes must maintain order and follow all rules and regulations set forth by the Bank’s staff and security personnel. The policy stated that “the Bank will return the unvalidated old, redesigned notes in the form deposited if validation proves unsuccessful.”

As word of the continued rejection of the old notes by banks spread, traders started rejecting the old notes in rural areas.

Old Nigerian currency notes are being rejected in the Ota area of Ogun State.
Additionally, a large number of gas stations were not dispensing fuel, and those that did only accepted the new naira notes with a strict no transfer, no POS policy.

Since the traders in the well-known market in Ota are primarily rural residents without an account number, they are refusing old notes, making it difficult for locals to conduct business.

According to a food vendor at Ikeja Market, “I am still collecting old notes, otherwise, I will go hungry,” old notes are still used as a form of exchange in some areas of Lagos. What can I do since all the money they brought to buy food was in old notes?
Another trader who bemoaned the absence of the new notes in use said, “The government should not incite riots in the nation. You’re advising people not to recollect old notes because there are no new notes available. Do you believe that voters will turn out to cast ballots during the election without eating anything? I’m still gathering it, and then I’ll take it to the bank. I will inform the Nigerian police, who will take appropriate action, if the bank refuses to collect.
It was also made known that business owners in Lagos state’s Ojota Axis no longer accept the old naira notes.
For instance, Mama Chichi, a provision seller who is well-known in her community, claimed that banks no longer collect old notes and that she had difficulty spending all of her old notes on Monday.

“Banks no longer collect obsolete currency. On Monday, I had to find ways to spend all my old notes,” she said.
In addition, on February 13th, 2023, gas stations near the Ogudu-Ojota road ceased to accept old notes.

You can either use the new notes or transfer money to purchase fuel at MRS and Total. After spending hours in line, I was informed that the old notes would not be accepted. It is truly pitiful, complained Mr. Musa Ahmed, a keke driver.
A POS operator, Johnson said he gets cash from transporters as well as market women. “I don’t collect more than N50,000 from anyone as we are not sure of what will happen and I dispense the old notes as soon as I get them. There is no new note in circulation so how are people expected to go about their lives?

“When someone brings old notes to me, I sign an agreement with them that if no one collects it from me, the money will be returned. But people still collect the old notes when I tell them that there are no new notes”, he stated.

A resident of Ikorodu area of Lagos, Dr Innocent Ogbonna, said “I am in house prison now, no money to buy fuel for my car, no money to fuel my generator, money to move around in a public bus. What type of policy is this?”

Pastor (Mrs) Ebunoluwa Adeobaniyi in the Ketu area of Lagos, said, “We are not finding it easy here in and around Ketu.” Commercial activities have been grounded because people with old notes cannot spend them as there are no new ones. And now we are hearing that the Supreme Court has shifted it to February 22. Neither new nor old notes are considered legal tender by most people. “Business activities have been paralyzed.”

Another resident of Ketu lamented that “a hungry man is an angry man.” How could CBN cajole us to push all our old Naira notes into bank accounts and now failed to release or replace the same old new Naira notes with new notes? This is not a laughing or joking time.”

According to him, he had combed all banks within Ojodu Berger in search of where he could see people in queues for money but found none. “As a family man, I have just N1,000 in my pocket while my money has been inside my bank account, what should I do now.”

A survey of markets and motor parks around Lagos showed that informal business transactions were still being consummated using the old and new notes together Many operators of commercial busses in Lagos, particularly in the hinter parts of the state have started rejecting the old notes as at yesterday’s evening, while banking agents traded cautiously on the old notes.

The Lagos State bus service (LAGBUS), which uses the cowry card, had also stopped collecting the old notes like most established businesses. However, in a a few markets, traders were seen using the old and the new notes together, especially with the unavailability of the new notes.

Moreover, prior to the Supreme Court Judgement on the Naira redesign policy of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) shifting ruling to February 22 this year, management of Nigerian Railway Corporation (NRC) yesterday morning insisted that passengers should pay for tickets with new Naira notes, thus, leading to protests that forced management to revert the decision.

Many passengers who had the old naira notes were stranded alongside a few that purchased tickets with new notes just as the train was delayed at Kajola in Ogun state for over two and half hours for fear of attack by passengers with old notes before the reprieve came from management.
It appears that the management at Kajola, Ijoko, Agbado, Agege, and Oshodi railway train stations quickly instructed the ticketing staff to sell tickets to passengers with old naira after receiving feedback on the potential consequences of the decision on ticket sales and the violent reaction of stranded passengers with old naira notes. This was done after about a two-hour delay from the regular 6.00 departure time from Kajola.

Stranded Train Riders Due to NRC’s Insistence on New Naira Notes.
Prior to the Supreme Court Judgement on the Naira redesign policy of Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) shifting ruling to February 22 this year, management of Nigerian Railway Corporation (NRC) yesterday morning insisted that passengers should pay for tickets with new Naira notes, thus, leading to protests that forced management to revert the decision.
Many passengers who had the old naira notes were stranded alongside few that purchased tickets with new notes just as the train was delayed at Kajola in Ogun state for over two and half hours for fear of attack by passengers with old notes before the reprieve came from management.

It appears that the management at Kajola, Ijoko, Agbado, Agege, and Oshodi railway train stations quickly instructed the ticketing staff to sell tickets to passengers with old naira after receiving feedback on the potential consequences of the decision on ticket sales and the violent reaction of stranded passengers with old naira notes. This was done after about a two-hour delay from the regular 6.00 departure time from Kajola.

However, those who relied on the train to get to their various places of employment early had no choice but to look for an alternate mode.

One of the passengers, John Paul, a trader from Yaba, claimed that the decision by the corporation’s management to introduce the collection of tickets with new naira notes was hasty, inconvenient, and embarrassing. The managing director, First Fit Nigeria Limited, Mr. Eric Umezurike, said, a federal government agency like Nigerian Railway Corporation is in a better position to collect old naira notes and exchange them seamlessly with a sister agency like Central Bank of Nigeria(CBN).
According to him, if a government agency is rejecting old notes at a period when the case is still pending in court, what would be the expectations from market women supermarkets and petrol attendants.

The Lagos district manager of the corporation, Engr. Augustine Arase, did not reply to a text message sent to him on this development as at the time of filing this report.

Customers Vandalise Banks, ATMs, Cars ln Delta

Protest over the scarcity of the new naira notes and rejection of the old notes in Delta state has sparked serious protests in Udu, Effurun and some parts of Warri in Delta State.

It was gathered that at least three commercial banks including Union Bank, Access and Diamond Banks were touched by angry protesters, especially in the Udu area of the state.

No fewer than four vehicles have also been razed by the protesters in and around the Udu express junction and Ovwian area of Udu.

The protesters also barricaded the popular Udu Express Junction and Orhuwhorun Roundabout in Udu to prevent vehicle movement in the area

There were heavy gunfire by soldiers and policemen drafted to protect several banks in Udu, Effurun and Warri.

Sources told our correspondent that the bank customers took to protest after the banks refused to issue the new naira notes to those who had besieged the banks for cash.

Checks by our correspondent observed that the various Automated Teller Machines (ATMs) in Udu, Effurun and Warri were not dispensing cash prior to the protest.

The protesters yesterday took to the streets to shut activities in all the banks in the city, as shops and offices around the troubled areas also closed shop as a result of the apprehension.

Shop owners, filling stations and transporters have also stopped collecting the old naira notes from customers.However, at the time of filing the report, no fatality had been recorded from the protest

Meanwhile, the governor of Delta State and vice presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Senator Ifeanyi Okowa has appealed to citizens of the state and Nigerians to remain calm amidst scarcity of the new naira notes in the country.

The governor’s appeal is coming on the heels of protests by some citizens of the state at Orhuwhorun Community in Udu Local Government Area of the state where a bank’s ATM gallery was reportedly torched.

Okowa’s appeal was contained in a statement by the State Commissioner for Information, Mr Charles Aniagwu in Asaba, the state capital.

The governor also called on the federal government and the monetary authorities to ensure full penetration of banking services to the rural communities and urged private businesses to embrace the cashless policy irrespective of the hiccups presently experienced in order to reduce the sufferings of the masses.

Banks Close Shop In Eklti

Some commercial banks in Ado-Ekiti, the Ekiti state capital, yesterday shut their offices to customers following scarcity of naira notes.

Others that opened their offices were only offering skeletal services with customers getting less than N4,000 through over-the-counter payment.

Automatic Teller Machines (ATMs) disbursement went along with over-the-counter payments with customers being paid less than N6,000 by the machines.

A check by our correspondent at an old generation bank along the popular bank road showed that the bank premises were open to the customers.

Some customers were, however, seen lurking around the banks’ ATMs with the expectation that they would be loaded with the Naira notes

An official of the bank who doesn’t want his name in the print said, ” We decided not to open our office because of the fear of being attacked by angry customers as it is the case in some other states. We don’t have sufficient Naira notes while our network is down at the moment”.

At another new generation bank in the area, only N3,000 is being paid to customers across the counter but the ATMs were not working.

While some of the banks ensured that their ATMs dispense money to customers intermittently, others were not offering any services and their ATMs were not working.

Meanwhile, most Point-of-Sale (POS) outlets in the state are charging between N200 and N300 in exchange for a new N1,000 note.
When asked about the price increase, a PoS operator in Ado Ekiti said, “Initially, we did that for between N100 and N150; however, now, it is between N200 and N300. It increased because we had to pay additional funds to purchase the new Naira notes.

Police Arrest 5 As Protesters Refuse to Let Kwara’s Drivers Pass

The lack of new naira notes infuriated some Ilorin, Kwara State, locals, who took to the streets to demonstrate.

Nearly every area of the state capital experienced disruption due to the protests, which were largely orchestrated by touts.

In addition to lighting used tires on fire on busy roads, the hoodlums positioned themselves in key areas to turn drivers away and tell them to go back to their homes.
However, the state police command said five suspects have been arrested in connection with the public disturbance in the state capital.

The spokesman of the police in the state, Okasanmi Ajayi said the suspects would be charged to court.

Some of the protesters, who spoke in chorus, lamented their inability to feed themselves and their families due to lack of funds, occasioned by the federal government’s naira swap policy.

“It’s better for all of us to stay at home so that the government can do something urgent about the scarcity of the new naira notes.,” they chorused.

The protests were pronounced at the old Ilorin- Jebba road- Sango – Oyun axis, Oko- Olowo, Oloje, Pakata- Ipata- Oloje, Ogidi, Okelele and Airport Road, all in Ilorin, the state capital.

Meanwhile, Kwara State governor, AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq and the Emir of Ilorin, Ibrahim Sulu-Gambari, have called for calm.

The governor and the Emir, in separate statements, sympathised with the people over the current hardship they were experiencing.

The governor, in a statement signed by his chief press secretary, Rafiu Ajakaye, sympathised with the people of the state on the continuous scarcity of the naira as a result of the CBN’s recent currency redesign policy.

He appealed to the people of the state to remain calm and peaceful, and not give in to any frustrations over the naira scarcity.

The Emir, in a statement signed by his spokesman, Shettima AbdulAziz Arowona, said:”Dear Kwarans, I have said it on several occasions that the Ilorin Emirate is known for peace. Kwara State is known for harmony, let’s resist all forms of temptations. Governments at all levels are working assiduously towards ensuring that the hardship is curtailed. I am deeply touched and worried about the current situation. It calls for calm and perseverance. Please let’s remain peaceful and together we shall overcome this hard time”.

Scores Injured As Police, Troops Disperse Protesting Customers In Uyo

There was outrage in Uyo, the Akwa Ibom state capital, as dozens of customers who besieged the Udo Udoma Avenue, Uyo area of the CBN to deposit their old notes were injured in a stampede, following several canisters of teargas thrown by the anti-riot policemen to disperse the surging crowd, our correspondent learnt yesterday.

Besides, troops and police operatives averted attacks by angry customers and prevented them from torching the Aka Road branch of the United Bank for Africa (UBA) after forcefully pulling down the Nigerian and UBA flags, with officials said to have escaped through the backdoor to call in the security agents.

“The customers had already filled up the banking halls and officials had a hectic time attending to them, while dozens outside struggled to enter. At that point, the officials were overwhelmed and had to escape through the backdoor to call the security agencies, who came, threw teargas canisters, and shot sporadically in the air, causing a stampede with scores injured,” Inyang Inyang, an eye witness, said.

Apparently anticipating deadline extension given the intervention by the Supreme Court to no avail, it was gathered that angry customers trooped to the apex bank to drop their old notes following directive to that effect, but the process, according to some them, appeared highly tedious, forcing protest which led to the intervention by the police operatives.

“We heard the CBN would be our last resort after commercial banks have refused to accept the old currency denominations from us. But we were shocked this morning (yesterday) upon arriving at the Udo Udoma office of the CBN to discover that we couldn’t do the transaction.” Emmanuel Inokotong, one of the distraught customers, lamented.

“How can you ask the whole population of about 7.2 million to converge in one bank to deposit their old notes?It’s wrong because it appears the Federal Government is deliberately setting Nigerians up to revolt against the state.” Effiong Udofia, a civil servant, who explained that he shunned going to work to keep vigil at the bank, noted.

Checks by LEADERSHIP revealed that the streets were virtually empty as scanty vehicles, mostly government officials, political parties on campaigns, few commercial buses and tricycles plied the streets with fares raised by over 200 percent for only commuters with the new notes.

Efforts to speak with the state CBN branch Controller, Mrs. Ogbomon – Pius Itohan, were abortive, but a senior official of the apex bank explained that security agents were called in to quell the anticipated violence, wondering why the customers could not comply by depositing their cash in time after weeks of sensitization programmes across the country.

Benue Youths Block Otukpo Federal Highway

In Benue State, angry youths took to the Federal Highway, Otukpo, along Enugu roundabout to protest the scarcity of new Naira notes and rejection of old notes.

Otukpo, which is the trado-political seat of Idoma land known as Benue South senatorial district of the state, was on a standstill.

The youths, according to an eye witness, barricaded the major highway which disrupted vehicular movement for hours. It was gathered that several passengers and motorists were left stranded as youths made a bonfire with tyres on the highway.

It was also observed that traders às well as banks were rejecting the old Naira notes and the new Naira notes are not in circulation in Benue

Some of the customers who spoke to our Correspondent on phone expressed disappointment in a situation where banks are also rejecting the old currency alongside traders.

“I have a few old Naira notes and I went to a fuel station to buy fuel but was told by the pump attendant that they are not collecting old notes again. They were not connecting old notes, and were not allowing transfer and as well not using POS,” one customer said.

A police source, who confirmed the incident on condition of anonymity, said the protest was peaceful, as no destruction was recorded and no life was lost.

Read Also: 2023 election: Vote for candidates of your choice without fear, Buhari urges Nigerians

Aggrieved Residents Storm CBN Office In Akure

Residents of Akure on Tuesday stormed the CBN office in Akure, the Ondo state capital, following the refusal of some commercial banks to swap the old naira notes for the newly redesigned currencies.

It was gathered that the customers, who included Okada riders, traders, workers, and other residents, besieged the CBN office at Alagbaka, Akure, to change their old notes to new ones, and to register their displeasure with the activities of commercial banks who refused to collect old notes but dispensing same old naira on their ATMs.
When the CBN office was visited, it was discovered that the management had posted a notice asking commercial banks to stop rejecting the old notes.

Commercial banks are dispensing old naira notes at ATMs in Akure and other areas of Ondo State, but they won’t take them as deposits, a customer complained.

Oye Emmanuel, a client, stated: “I just picked up an old N1,000 note from First Bank Alagbaka and they refused to collect old notes on the counter.”

Makinde Demands Calm
FROM IBADAN, BY ADEBAYO WAHEED Seyi Makinde, the governor of Oyo State, has once more urged the people of the state to exercise restraint in response to the hardship brought on by the Central Bank of Nigeria’s (CBN) naira redesign policy, emphasizing that using violence would not provide an immediate solution. At the same time, state security chiefs have vowed to be tough on any criminals who attempt to disrupt the peaceful demonstrations by residents of Oyo State against the ongoing shortage of new Naira notes. The governor spoke to state residents in Igbojaye, Itesiwaju Local Government, capping a three-day campaigning trip through the four local governments in the Iseyin Federal Constituency. The security chiefs spoke in Ibadan, after an on-the-spot assessment of the situation in the state capital yesterday.. The governor appealed to residents of the state.

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