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Awka Residents Besiege Banking Halls As Old Naira Notes Nears Deadline
Following the Tuesday January 31 deadline set by the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, for the cessation of circulation of the old naira notes of N200, N500 and N1000, residents of Awka and environs have besieged bank offices in Awka.
ABS newscrew visited banks located at Zik Avenue and Enugu/Onitsha expressway as well as Eke Awka market to feel the pulse of residents as regards the CBN directive.
At the various banks visited, it was gathered that most the customers came to the banks as early as seven in the morning but because of too much crowd, malfunctioning of ATMs and scarcity of the new naira notes, they could not withdraw the money they came for as at the time of filing this report.
At some of the banks ,it was observed that bank officials were having a very difficult day trying to control their customers, both those who came to deposit old naira notes and those who came to withdraw new ones.
Some of the bank customers, Mr William Edozie and Mrs Uzoamaka Udichi, a pregnant woman, complained of how long they have spent in the banks in their quest to withdraw money without success.
Another customer who spoke off record, said he deposited all his old money in the bank, went to ATM to withdraw new ones but without success, lamenting of how frustrating the whole process is and the scarcity of the new naira notes which he alleged might be CBN’s way of introducing cashless economy.
He further asked that if the CBN introduces cashless economy, how will the uneducated, aged people in the rural areas fair?
Some POS operators who spoke to the ABS, Happiness Obodoeze and Adaku Chukwuneke, complained the inability of the banks to give them enough new notes for their business which they said is affecting them negatively as their customers are now rejecting old naira notes.
At Eke Awka market, ABS gathered from buyers and sellers that they still transact business with the old naira notes because of the scarcity of the new naira notes.
Speaking, the Chief of Staff to the executive chairman of Eke Awka market, Sir Charles Aneriobi, disclosed that based on the CBN directive, the leadership of the market visited some of the banks and they gave them assurance that they will be open for business this weekend to receive old naira notes but not for full day and he encouraged Eke Awka traders to still receive old notes from their customers as they still have the weekend and Tuesday next week, to deposit to the bank.
Some of the traders, Elder Christopher Nwafor, Mr Nwokoye Emmanuel and Stephen Chukwunonso, asked how they will sell their wares if they refuse to collect old notes from their customers and appealed to the federal government to extend the deadline for the usage of the old notes as well as increase the amount of new naira notes in circulation so it will get to everyone.
Reports from unverified quarters, said banks officials are selling the new naira notes to politicians hence the reason for the scarcity of the money.