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Friday 10 March 2023

Customers Groan As Banks Exhaust Old, New Naira Notes

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Banking halls, ATMs deserted •We’re expecting fresh supplies, say DMBs

Despite the reintroduction of old N200 naira notes into circulation, commercial banks in Abuja are still having a hectic time meeting customers’ cash needs as many of them claim to have run out of supplies.

Consequently, the banking halls of many banks and their ATMs are completely deserted.

Anxious customers now spend a chunk of their work hours scouting for a few bank branches and ATMs that will disburse the new naira notes.

Many also lay siege to banks as early as 4am to pick numbers and return later to queue for cash.

Checks by Daily Sun reveal that some of the banks pay as little as N2,000 per customer as against the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) directives of N20,000 daily payouts across the counter.

Deposit Money Banks (DMBs) visited on Tuesday did not accept or disburse the old N500 and N1,000 notes, though a few of them did so on Monday.

Sources said the banks were treading softly on the old N500 and N1,000 notes that were recently resurrected by the Supreme Court, since the apex bank has not officially communicated to them on the next line of action.

At the Fidelity Bank, Kubwa, Abuja, a teller clerk said: We’re not taking or issuing old N500 and N1,000 notes. It’s just the N200 and the new notes”.

At another Fidelity Bank branch adjacent Sahad Stores at the Central Business District, customers were paid N7,000 across the counter.

Polaris Bank in Gwarinpa was literally non-operational as officials claim to be expecting cash from the CBN for onward disbursement to customers.

Stanbic IBTC bank on Ralph Shodeinde Street, CBD, neither accepted nor disbursed the old N500 and N1,000 notes.

However, the bank’s ATMs dispensed N10,000 to each customer, resulting in long queues around there.

At Zenith Bank along the same street as Stanbic, there was no cash for disbursement, just as the ATMs were dry. A staff member said the branch was expecting some fresh cash supply from the apex bank.

Many bank customers, especially Point of Sales operators, lamented the endless horror Nigerians were subjected to as the hunt for cash gets fiercer.

Okoli Janet, a PoS operator lamented: “I thought they said the naira scarcity was to ensure vote buyers don’t get access to cash to disrupt the presidential election. So, what is happening? The elections are over but the cash crunch is not. In fact, it’s worse right now”.

Another customer, Bashir Ali said: “I’m a trader and I need cash. The mobile apps are not working. Network issue. Nothing is working. This is a dangerous situation. They should do something about these new naira notes”, he groaned.

It was also gathered that there was serious cash mop up by politicians ahead of the Guber elections on Saturday.

The Supreme Court in its ruling last Friday, extended the validity of the old naira notes to December 31.

Since then, there has been confusion as the Presidency and the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) kept mum over the matter.

Although the CBN was not a party to the suit by State Governors challenging the naira redesign policy, legal experts say the apex bank would need an approval from President Muhammadu Buhari to determine its next line of action, as matters of currency change need presidential nods to fly.

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