From Clement A. Oloyede (Kano), Mumini Abdulkareem (Ilorin) & Yvonne Ugwuezuoha (Lagos)
Following the news of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) commencing the disbursement of the old N500 and N1,000 notes to arrest the cash crunch that has brought untold hardship on Nigerians, Daily Trust check shows that queues are sill extending at bank offices.
Daily Trust has reported that CBN had instructed commercial banks to immediately collect the old naira notes, deposited at the apex bank, promising that before the end of the week, the nation would be awash with more naira notes, according to a reliable source.
Our reporter in Abuja disclosed that Unity Bank and a couple of other banks in Utako were paying out the old notes yesterday as customers were seen taking N20,000 apiece.
Branches in Kwara have no cash
Bank managers in Ilorin, the Kwara State capital, told Daily Trust on Monday that contrary to the CBN “instruction,” nothing was released to them by the apex bank.
Some staff in Jaiz and UBA who also confirmed the development, said they did not receive the old notes from the CBN which worsened the situation for many customers.
A POS operator, Abdulazeez Abdullateef, told our correspondent that “the present situation is worse than where we were coming from, as bad as we had thought.
“I have gone to Lotus Bank, several First Bank branches in Ilorin among others, but I couldn’t get a kobo, whether old or new notes, as the banks said they got nothing from CBN. Some of the banks even closed earlier because of the situation.
Queues overwhelm bank premises in Lagos
Daily Trust correspondent gathered that there are still long queues within and outside bank premises across Lagos, with residents complaining about the difficulty in withdrawing both new and old notes even after waiting for many hours.
Checks at GTB, UBA, First Bank, and Zenith Bank at Fagba, Lagos, recorded crowd outside the banks, waiting to withdraw. Likewise Stanbic IBTC and Access Bank at Ogba.
One of the customers of Stanbic IBTC at Ogba, Asuquo Martins, who claimed to have arrived at the bank as early as 8am, said he left the bank after 2pm still unable to withdraw any cash.
However, Rita Nzediegwu who visited Zenith Bank at Adeyemo Alakija in Victoria Island, said she got there at about 8am and was able to withdraw after a short while.
“I went there yesterday to withdraw and I was given N5,000. They were only attending to Zenith bank customers inside the banking hall because the ATM was not working. Today they gave N10,000, only to Zenith customers still.
“I didn’t wait for long because there were two people issuing the cash, which made the process swift. By the time I was leaving, they had locked the gate and only admitted people who had early taken numbers because they said they didn’t have enough cash.”
Branches rationing cash in Kano
In Kano, our correspondent gathered from some of the commercial banks that the CBN was yet to “release” the old notes to them in the volume expected.
A staff of Access Bank, who asked not to be named, said they were also told that the CBN would release the old notes on Thursday, however, as at closing time, the bank was yet to receive delivery of the money from the apex bank.
“We were also expecting today (Thursday) but later they informed us again that they (CBN) will release the notes to us tomorrow (Friday). We are just hoping because what we had left in the vault is what we were still rationing to our customers and if we don’t get more money soon, we may have another problem similar to the mad rush witnessed before the election,” she said.
At GTBank, Daily Trust observed that it was dispensing old notes via ATMs and on the counter. Inside the bank, the withdrawal was limited to N10,000 per customer, and the same at the ATMs for customers of the bank. Those with ATM cards from other financial institutions were limited to withdrawing N1,000 and a maximum of N2,000.
One of the security staff in the bank told our correspondent that “they didn’t bring any money today (Thursday). It’s what the bank has in its vault that we are still managing. Maybe they will bring it tomorrow but as of today, I didn’t see any bullion van drive into this bank and I have been on duty since morning.”