Residents of Akenfa community, in Yenagoa Local Government Area of Bayelsa State, on Friday, took to the streets to protest against continued rejection of the old N500 and N1000 notes in the state.
The protesters, comprising mostly women and youths, displayed placards with the inscriptions “Banks refuse the old cash but they are still dispensing it, why?, “Attention, Attention, we are dying, banks give old notes but marketers reject them.”
The Supreme Court had ordered that the old N500, N1000 notes should be allowed in circulation along with the new notes until December 31, 2023, but while most banks issued the notes through their Automated Teller Machines (ATM), traders and banks have refused to accept the old notes.
Daily Trust gathered that the aggrieved residents blocked the major Mbiama-Yenagoa road for hours crippling vehicular movement and commercial activities around the Akenfa.
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One of the affected residents, Mrs. Debora Ebi, who narrated her ordeals, said people could no longer cope with the rejection of the old notes in the state, noting that the charges from Point of Sale (POS) outlets are very high.
She expressed frustration over the continued rejection of the old notes, adding that she could not do any transaction.
A trader, Madam Tokoni, said banks are giving old naira notes but refuse to accept deposit of the old naira notes from customers.
She said: “If I sell and collect old notes, how will I transact business when others won’t receive. We have suffered, our family members are dying of hunger. No food, sales are not moving, why is government treating us like this?
“We heard other states are accepting the old naira note but the story is different in Bayelsa state, why?”
According to a former secretary Bayelsa State Civil Liberties Organisation (CLO), Comrade Alagoa Morris, the masses are the main victims, not the elite.
He said: “As a matter of fact it is sad, unfortunate and very unacceptable. This suffering has reduced Nigerians to the level where their dignity as human beings have been denied them; including avoidable deaths. The continued denial of cash even after the Supreme Court’s ruling speaks volume that this is a country where the rule of law is not practised.
“Any society whereby the system is governed or propelled by the whims and caprices of individual office holders, such cannot be described as a practicing democracy, it could be fit into any of the government systems akin to George Orwell’s Animal Farm.
“Unfortunately, the National Assembly where the people are supposed to be represented is like a toothless bulldog. This is regrettable and Mr. President should ease the pains Nigerians are passing through as a direct consequence of this cashless policy of his government.
“If it was due to the election, it was obvious that dollar was rumoured to have been used to induce voters in some areas. And so, the strategy was not completely effective.”