The operators of the Nigerian financial system are inflicting hard times on Nigerians over the exchange of old Naira notes for new ones.
The scarcity of the new notes has subjected many Nigerians to harrowing experiences with many resulting in bizarre behaviour to express their frustrations. This is as many financial system operators are diverting the new notes to an emerging thriving ‘black market’ for the Naira.
Currency racketeers, who are mainly bankers, PoS operators and their agents are trading in the new Naira notes as the currency as they become scarce to get from banking halls and the Automated Teller Machines (ATMs).
Across the country, currency racketeers are now holding swaps in the Naira swap exercise. Most of these people are with insider banking connections and openly sell or swap these new naira notes. The deals are either done with bank transfers or using Point-of-Sales (PoS) machines, with a markup on the Naira value.
Mostly the mark-ups range from 10 – 20 per cent, depending on the amount to be swapped or the location of such deals as per how easily the new notes are readily available.
Most of the currency dealers charge N100 per N1,000 and N500 per N5,000 for the new notes while the PoS operators charge similar fees. The PoS operators are quick to blame the hike in fees on their inability to access the new notes through the normal channels.
As the queues at the banks’ ATMs continue to grow with the inability of many Nigerians to easily access the new notes, most Nigerians are now experiencing hardship in meeting their daily basic needs and expenses.
In some viral videos, Nigerians of both genders are bizarrely expressing their frustrations.
In one of the videos, a woman was seen in an Access Bank’s banking hall almost half naked demanding that her bank balance should be given to her as she wanted to close her bank account,
A similar video shows a man jumping on a bank counter and removing his dress top, expressing the same frustration.
Meanwhile, the Department of State Services (DSS) has confirmed the existence of a growing black market for the new Naira notes.
The Service in a statement signed by Peter Afunanya, its Spokesman, accused commercial bank officials of aiding the crime.
‘DSS intercepted syndicates selling new currency notes, bank official implicated,’ read in part, “The Department of State Services hereby informs the public that it has intercepted some members of organised syndicates involved in the sale of the newly redesigned naira notes.
‘’In the course of its operations, in this regard in parts of the country, it was also established that some commercial bank officials are aiding the economic malfeasance.
‘’Consequently, the Service warns the currency racketeers to desist from this ignoble act. Appropriate regulatory authorities are, in this same vein, urged to step up monitoring and supervisory activities to expeditiously address emerging trends.
‘’It should be noted that the Service has ordered its commands and formations to further ensure that all persons and groups engaged in the illegal sale of the notes are identified. Therefore, anyone with useful information relating to this is encouraged to pass the same to the relevant authorities, the statement said.
Also, the Bankers Committee at its meeting this week instructed that no bank should pay out old notes again via ATMs or in bank branches over the counter and no new notes over the counter. Banks are only allowed to release new notes via ATMs.
“EFCC/ICPC officials will accompany CBN examiners to inspect bank branches over the next two weeks to assess full Compliance with CBN guidelines above.
“Officials of branches that fail to comply or that release cash to Corporates and Politicians will face termination of their contracts and the respective banks will be sanctioned
“No branch should allow an individual with multiple Debit cards to do multiple transactions on ATMs.
“All new notes have tracking numbers to trace them back to State, Bank and Bank branches. So notes confiscated at parties and other locations can be traced back to the Bank and applicable branch,” its statement revealed.