By Nosa Akenzua
A frightening trend to the prevailing cash scarcity in Delta State has emerged with persons suspected to be armed robbers now trailing and attacking Point of Sale (PoS) operators and other residents in their homes and dispossessing them of huge sums of money in the process.
The Daily Times gathered from several victims that many operators –as well as other residents – have lost cash amounting to a tidy fortune to the activities of the men of the underworld.
Mostly affected are operators in Asaba, the State capital.
The victims recounted that the suspected armed men invaded their homes and forced them at gunpoint to insert credit cards into their (robbers’) PoS machines, most of the time emptying their accounts.
Most of the victims, who are local traders, lamented that the trend started over a week ago, adding that some of them have started abandoning their homes for fear of losing their business funds stashed in banks.
A victim, Tessy Edah, said: “The robbers have been terrorizing us, invading houses and forcing residents to part with money through transfers with their handy PoS machine.
“They usually come in numbers while being armed and break into houses. A lot of people have been robbed in the process.
“We are confused at the moment. Most of us are afraid of going to the police; that is why we have cried out to the media to assist us inform the authorities.
“Please, they should come to our aid and address the situation before the trend spreads to other parts of the town.”
The development set in when it became clear that customers no longer find cash withdrawals from banks easy due to a nagging cash crunch.
Forced to resort to patronizing PoS operators, they discovered that the latter took advantage of the situation levying higher than normal charges on transactions.
For instance, withdrawals of between N5,000 and N10,000 attract charges of N500 and N1,000 respectively as against much lower charges in direct withdrawal from various banks.
Police Public Relations Officer (PPRO) for the State, Deputy Superintendent (DSP) Bright Edafe confirmed the incident, disclosing that investigation was ongoing into the matter.
He, however, urged residents to report any suspicious movement to the nearest police station for swift action.