Despite the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) extending the deadline for exchange of old naira notes for new ones to February 10th, 2023, scarcity of the new notes have led to empty banking halls across various commercial banks in Lagos and other parts of the country throughout this week.
While there have been minimal activities in banks, frustrated customers resorted to long queues at Automated Teller Machines (ATMs) mostly N100 notes which means N2000 maximum withdrawals per transaction.
Checks by News Diet revealed that while most banking halls were empty due to paucity of funds in bank vaults, large crowds had formed outside some of the few banks that were rumoured to be preparing to load their ATMs.
At Fidelity Bank Plc branch along Adetola road in Surulere, Lagos, there were a few customers arguing with bank officials who had insisted that the branch had run out of cash, meanwhile some of the bankers came to the ATM machine to make withdrawals under the guise of testing the machines.
The story was similar at First Bank, Zenith Bank, and Access Bank, all located in close proximity to each other along the Aguda, Surulere road.
Meanwhile, commercial banks claims that the new naira has been in short supply is faulty as several hawkers were seen selling huge bundles of new naira notes at parties over the weekend.
In Apapa yesterday, there were long queues at Union Bank Plc, Jaiz Bank and others around Wharf, Burma Road and other areas located within the same axis, with a izable crowd of commuters jostling through the queue hoping that the bank would load its ATM.
A bank official, who spoke with our correspondent said the bank had been restricted to paying denominations lower than N200 notes due to a CBN directive.
When our correspondent attempted to make a withdrawal to collect the lower denominations, he was told that there was no money available, not even a thousand naira.
News Diet also observed that some Point of Sales (POS) dealers who had cash exchanged at N100 per N1000 transactions. Previously, N100 was charged for transactions between N1000 and N7,000.
Meanwhile, many customers of microfinance banks operating in Osun State on Wednesday threatened to storm the streets in protest against the lack of cash for withdrawal.
In some of the microfinance banks visited in Osogbo, many officials of the banks, were not on seat, as many customers waited endlessly to withdraw from their accounts.
Some of the customers claimed to be salary earners, who often get their monthly salaries through their accounts domiciled in microfinance banks.
The customers while speaking to our correspondent during visits to Olubasiri Microfinance, Ibuaje Microfinance and Osogbo Microfinance banks, all located within the Osogbo metropolis, threatened to embark on a protest if the situation persisted.