Depositors of old naira notes scampered for safety at the premises of Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) along Udo Udoma Avenue in Uyo, Akwa Ibom state capital as Anti Riot policemen opened tear gas on those who thronged into the bank to dump their old notes now rejected by transporters and others in the state.
Our Correspondent gathered that the incident followed the rejection of the old notes in the state by taxi drivers and tricycle operators causing the entire city to be grounded.
Panicked by the development, those in possession of the old notes moved in large numbers to the Central Bank of Nigeria to deposit them.
It was gathered that the number of depositors were so much that the policemen on duty had to open tear gas to avoid disorder at the apex bank.
But before the incident, many filling stations and business outlets refused to accept the old notes even though they would remain legal tender until February 17, according to the Central Bank.
In Uyo city, commuters were unable to get to their destinations including public sector workers who were stranded along the major roads in the metropolis as buses and taxis including tricycle operators rejected the old notes.
The rejection came amidst the growing scarcity of the new naira notes as customers continued to besiege banks with no avail looking for the new notes.
Some of the bank customers spent several hours daily without being able to carry out financial transactions such as making withdrawals from their accounts while some banks disbursed between N3,000 and N5,000 to customers across the counter.
One of the bank customers told our Correspondent that he left his residence early in the morning to withdraw some money for his family saying he has spent all day without any success.
“The bankers were loading money in bits saying that at the end of the day, customers could only withdraw two thousand naira only”.
The rejection of the old notes may have been prompted by a circular purported to have been issued by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) stating the guidelines for depositing old notes as well as the cash deposit window as being “open to the public from February 15-17, 2023 between 9 am to 2 pm daily.”
Checks also showed that apart from transporters and filling stations rejecting the old notes, pharmacies and traders in the metropolis are not also accepting the old notes despite the non-availability of the new ones.
It was also gathered that some filling stations that have rejected the old notes have reduced the price of petrol per litre and also rejected debit card transactions, selling at a reduced price for only those buying with the new notes.
The currency squeeze also affected the yearly valentine’s day celebration which was marked yesterday as it was different from previous years.
it was gathered that last night, young men and women were said to have retired home early unlike in previous years, just as many relaxation spots were empty and without the usual fun fare.
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