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February 14, 2023

Banks reject old naira notes as queues persist at ATMs

queues persist at ATMs

…Buhari, Emefiele meet again in Aso Rock

…PoS operators lament the impact of cash crunch

By Babajide Komolafe, Providence Ayanfeoluwa & Samuel Oyadongha Johnbosco Agbakwuru, LAGOS

In spite of the Supreme Court order extending the deadline for the old naira notes till Wednesday this week, banks yesterday stopped accepting the notes even as Nigerians continue to spend long hours in queues to access the new naira notes. 

The Supreme Court of Nigeria, last Wednesday entered an interim order against the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN banning the apex bank from going ahead with the February 10th deadline for the end of use of the old N200, N500, N1,000 notes.

Buhari, Emefiele meet again in Aso Rock

Again, President Muhammadu Buhari yesterday met with the CBN governor, Godwin Emefiele, at the Presidential Villa Abuja.

The CBN governor, who was seeing the President privately for the third time since the cash crisis escalated across the country, did not speak to journalists as he left the villa

The reason for the visit was not known, as at the time of filing this report, it was however, believed to be in connection to finding solution to the cash crisis.

Vanguard investigation revealed that banks yesterday did not accept the old naira notes from customers. Further investigations showed that some of the banks sent messages to their customers, especially PoS agents, saying they should stop accepting the old naira notes. 

A tier-1 bank official who spoke to Vanguard on condition of anonymity said: “We are not accepting the old notes in our branches. The only branches that can collect the old notes are the big branches designated as hubs.”

A PoS operator, known as Mrs. Emmanuel, told Vanguard, “My bank told us to stop accepting the old notes, adding that they will not collect it from us again.”

Another PoS operator said: “My bank sent SMS to us that it has stopped accepting old naira notes. What do we do now that the new notes are scarce?”

Most of  the banks however failed to confirm that the branches were officially directed to stop accepting the old notes.

But speaking on condition of anonymity, a bank official in response to Vanguard enquiries said: “I’m not aware that any bank is accepting the old notes as there’s been no updating directive from the CBN further to the Feb 10 deadline. This is a personal opinion please, not representing the views of the bank(s).”

Queues for new notes persist at  ATMs 

Meanwhile, the widespread queues to access new naira notes persisted at the few ATMs dispensing cash.

Vanguard’s investigation showed that a lot of bank branches in Lagos did not open to customers and their ATMs also did not dispense cash. 

For example, most of the banks in the Agbara area of Lagos were shut yesterday with customers stranded.

A bank customer who called Vanguard from Agbara lamented that they left their homes early to get money from the bank, but to their dismay, the banks shut down activities.

The bank customer, Mrs Ogho Ojegba, told Vanguard the only place you can get a bank from Ijanikin to Oko-Afo, along the Badagry axis is Agbara, even as she pointed out that all the connecting villages within Agbara also make use of the banks.

However, she revealed that the branches of two banks started giving numbers to customers on seeing that trouble had started brewing at the branch of another bank as customers were seen hitting the gate. She told Vanguard that when she asked the security men in police uniform whether they would open, they told her to visit another branch of her bank because some branches have been shut down till further notice.

Cash crunch impacts PoS business

PoS operators have lamented the negative impact of the continued scarcity of the new naira notes on their business.

Bisiola, a PoS agent at Ikotun, said that she has not had access to cash to run her business for the day as some of her suppliers of cash had disappointed her as the fee for buying the cash has been increased.

“There is no cash anywhere. I have tried sourcing for cash from most of my suppliers who give me cash in exchange for a low service fee,  all to no avail. I am so tired as most of them have increased their exchange fee. The banks are not giving us cash. 

“I am preparing to lock up and go out to source for cash. I just pray I succeed. The way the situation of cash is in this country, people will end up begging for survival despite having money in the bank.”

Also, a PoS operator who did not want her name mentioned revealed to Vanguard that she was charged  N10,000 to get  N100,000. The operator added that she also now charges N1,400 for a N10,000 cash withdrawal.

Point of Sale operators lamented the scarcity of cash a few days after the old notes in denominations of N200, N500, and N1,000 ceased being legal tender.

Benin residents decry hours wasted on ATM queues

Residents of Benin have decried the man-hours spent queuing in banks and Automated Teller Machines (ATMs) in their bid to access both the new and old Naira notes.

They decried the poor functionality of the mobile and Internet banking services, lamenting that the cashless policy was frustrating and is  the major cause of the long queues being witnessed in banks and ATM.

A petty trader, Mrs Obehi Ofure, said “We now spend more time in banks and ATM queues than we spend in our different businesses.

“Some people come to queue up at the ATM as early as 2:00 a.m. so they can be among the first people to access cash.

“I came to this ATM before 6 a.m , yet, I picked 135 as my number on the queue. I was surprised; I met a lot of people both old and young already in the queue.

“The time is now almost 12: 30 p.m. and it has not gotten to my turn, the number being attended to now be 75; this is so painful’, she said.

Naira scarcity persists in Bayelsa

Most banks were shut down yesterday in Yenagoa, Bayelsa State capital while the scarcity of naira notes worsened across the state.

Also, a section of the road leading to the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) office along the Oxbow Lake axis of Swali suburb was closed to traffic by security operatives.

Vanguard’s visit around town showed the absence of the usual long queues at the Automated Teller Machines points of commercial banks in the state capital, ostensibly due to lack of cash.

“Having survived the hardship of the weekend without money on me, I rushed to the bank this morning thinking I will withdraw some cash from my account only to learn that the banks are not operating, “ lamented a resident who gave his name as Tony Olotu.

However, the few Point-of-Sale agents in the state capital having cash to dispense have been making brisk business charging customers N3,000 for withdrawing N10,000 claiming they also pay bank officials to get the new notes.