Customers’ Woes Deepen As Touts Invade ATMs, Worsen Scarcity 

Gov Abiodun engages CBN over cash crunch

Touts and street urchins may have hijacked the on going Naira scarcity to increase the plight of Nigerian citizens genuinely thronging the various Automated Teller Machines across the country to withdraw cash for their daily activities.

Daily Sun investigations revealed that the touts now invade commercial banks’ Automated Teller Machines (ATMs) to create artificial scarcity and long queues.

Their modus operandi according to our findings was to arrive the ATM points as early as possible, pick numbers, create long queues and sell their slots to impatient customers on the same queue.

Since a lot of customers, especially Point of Sales operators want to withdraw more than the N20,000 daily limit set by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) using different debit cards, they buy off the slot of the touts for N500-N1,500 depending on their position on the queue.

This then tends to worsen the plights of ordinary depositors who want to withdraw less than N20,000.

A media consultant, Joe Abraham lamented: “What the touts are doing is what to see when vital commodities are scarce. People take advantage of it.

“One of the touts said he got to a bank in Kuje at 4am on Monday to ‘take number’ usually given by the banks’ security personnel.

“They take the first 25 slots and wait for customers to stroll in by 7am. Impatient ones buy the slot for N1,500. It’s a cool business for them. Before you know it, they mop up the money in the ATM. It’s crazy really”, he lamented.

Daily Sun gathered that the CBN and security agencies have expanded their sting operations to ensure banks comply with feeding new notes into their system.

Meanwhile, following the difficulties being faced by people over cash swaps in Ogun State, Governor, Dapo Abiodun, on Monday, paid an unscheduled visit to the Abeokuta branch of the Central Bank of Nigeria to seek relief on the amounts that people can withdraw in exchange for deposits made in commercial banks.

The governor also offered to lend members of his cabinet to monitor cash distribution to banks to ensure that no commercial bank or their agents hoard the new naira notes in the state. Abiodun was received at the Abeokuta CBN office located on the Presidential Boulevard, by the Branch Controller, Wahab Oseni.

He later met with Bankers Forum, made up of managers of commercial banks in the state and extracted a commitment from both the CBN and commercial banks to make cash available to bank customers from Tuesday.

Speaking at the CBN office, Abiodun declared that it was disappointing to see long queues of residents at Automated Teller Machines (ATMs), waiting to cash money from the system with so much stress and some not getting enough to meet their immediate needs.

He added that it was humiliating that those who were attended to were paid not more than two thousand naira per transaction.

Abiodun, however, urged the CBN to ensure the availability of new notes at commercial banks for people to withdraw their money.

The governor explained that he was compelled to visit the state branch of the CBN as the “landlord to find out how we can collaborate to ensure that success of the CBN policy on the new notes and currency swap”.

He added: “I’ve met with the President and CBN governor. It is within the right of the CBN by law and as enshrined in the Constitution.

“Our people went out in their numbers but our people who deposited money and felt they would have as much money as they had deposited or need for their daily needs and welfare and wellbeing.

“We’ve had to suspend our campaigns. I met with people over the weekend who said to me that they have not eaten for days, especially, those from the informal sector.

“As a governor, whose primary function is the welfare and security of our people, I need to find out how we can interact with you to see how we can improve on the current level of distribution of the currency in order to diffuse tension”.

Meanwhile, the governor has appealed to the youths in the state not to embark on any civil unrest, noting that such actions would only shut down the economy of the state and make things much more difficult.

“I want to use this medium to talk to our youths that when there is a problem, the solution is not to hit the streets and to start protest marches; we can not solve a problem with another problem.

“I want to plead with our youths that rather than sending social media announcements of impending disobedience around town, they should embrace peace. We are a very peaceful state; we are very orderly and we have spent a lot of time and energy to invest in that peace and security.

“You cannot because of this problem now want to begin to hit the street to shut down the system and commercial activities”, Abiodun stated.

Earlier in his remarks, the Branch Controller of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Wahab Oseni, pleaded with the people to exercise patience.

He assured the people that they would start having access to more cash as from Tuesday.

Oseni, while noting that the Ogun State branch of the bank has enough cash to distribute among commercial banks in the state, disclosed that the bank has come up with a plan that would see 40% cash disbursed to money agents, 30% paid across the counter and 30% paid through the Automatic Teller Machines.

He also added that microfinance banks in the state have also been added to the plan of cash disbursement across the country.

In their respective remarks, representatives of the Central Bank of Nigeria from Lagos and Abuja, Mr Adefuye Adeyemi and Mr Kayode Makinde, while stressing that the situation would improve by Tuesday, noted that the Apex bank would ensure full compliance by commercial banks on the disbursement of cash.

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