March 24, 2023
Banking Halls Empty As Naira Scarcity Worsens
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Banking Halls Empty As Naira Scarcity Worsens

Banking halls across various commercial banks in Lagos, Osun, Ekiti, and other parts of the country witnessed minimal activity as frustrated customers resorted to alternative means of cash withdrawal following the scarcity of naira notes in the banks.

Checks by our correspondents revealed that while most banking halls were empty due to paucity of funds in bank vaults, large crowds had formed outside some of the few banks that were rumoured to be preparing to load their Automated Teller Machines.

At First Bank Plc branch along Ogunnusi road in Lagos, there were a few customers arguing with bank officials who had insisted that the branch had run out of cash.

The story was similar at Ecobank, Zenith Bank, GTCO and Access Bank, all located in close proximity to each other along Ogunnusi road.

A bank official, who spoke with our correspondent said the bank had been restricted to paying denominations lower than N200 notes due to a CBN directive.

When our correspondent attempted to make a withdrawal to collect the lower denominations, he was told that there was no money available, not even a thousand naira.

At Access Bank in the same area, there was no form of over-the-counter payments, while the ATMs were not dispensing.

A commuter, Emmanuel Collins, who spoke with our correspondent at Access Bank adjacent Ojodu Grammar School, said he had just come from the banking hall of his bank (UBA).

He had pleaded to be paid any denomination at their disposal.

He said, “I’ve been to my bank. Since yesterday, they don’t have any cash. They said they don’t have N1000 and N500 notes. I asked them to pay me, even though it’s N50 notes, but they didn’t have.”

Operatives of the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission arrived two banks in Bauchi State on Tuesday to monitor the cash disbursement exercise, as the agency noted that the operation would spread across the country.

Our correspondent gathered that the operation, which is still ongoing, was being carried out by a joint taskforce comprising operatives of the ICPC and its sister anti-graft agency, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, and staff members of the CBN.

READ ALSO: EFCC Arrests New Naira Notes Hoarders in Abuja

Speaking to our correspondent on Wednesday, a top ICPC official said, “Yesterday, Tuesday, operatives of the commission from the Bauchi State office joined the taskforce alongside the staff of the CBN and operatives of the EFCC, to monitor the disbursement of new currency notes by some commercial banks within Bauchi metropolis.

Meanwhile, ICPC on Tuesday, arrested an Abuja-based woman, Oluwadarasimi Emma, with the Twitter handle @SimisolaGold and Twitter name Simisola of Lala, for offering new naira notes for sale on social media.

The arrest was as a result of intelligence received which led the ICPC operatives to seek out and promptly arrest the suspect.

The spokesperson for the anti-graft agency, Mrs. Azuka Ogugua revealed in a statement obtained by our correspondent on Wednesday night.

Ogugua said, “Oluwadarasimi Emma, a social media ‘serial entrepreneur,’ who deals in skincare, sales of fuel, facilitation of foreign travels through visa acquisitions, and other businesses, seized the opportunity of the scarcity of the new naira notes to openly market the new notes.

“It is believed that she is in collusion with key elements in the financial services sector diverting the newly released notes away from banking halls and payment channels into a ‘black market’.”

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