By Tunde Opalana
As Nigerians are heaving sigh of relief from the hardship caused by ash crunch created by the cashless policy, the Senate has urged the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN to mediate with a few commercial banks like the First Bank, United Bank of Africa, UBA and the Access Bank to resume banking operations in their branches in Oron Local Government Area of Akwa Ibom State without further delay.
This is as the upper legislative chamber also directed its Committee on Banking, Insurance and other Financial Institutions, to probe all the banks closed from 2010 till date in order for the CBN to strengthen the money deposit banks across the country as well as carry out thorough study on the causes of shutting the banks with a view to guiding against them.
These resolutions were consequent upon a motion sponsored by Senator Akon Etim Eyakenyi (PDP Akwa Ibom South) during plenary.
Senator Eyakenyi who is the Deputy Governor – elect in Akwa Ibom State noted that all banking operations in Oron Local Government Area have been suspended since February 17, 2023 till date following the protests and commotions caused by customers over acute scarcity of naira.
Presenting the motion, she said: “despite the straight roles that those banks play in commercial activities and the economy of Oron nation comprising of five local government areas; Mbo, Okobo, Udunguko, Urue Offong/Uruko, and Oron.”
According to her, the naira redesign and cashless policy of the CBN led to cash crunch nationwide while customers rushing to the banks without monies available for withdrawal, however, expressed happiness that normalcy has returned in many parts of the country, particularly in Oron after the apex bank directed commercial banks to pay old N500 and N1000 notes.
The lawmaker recalled incidents where bank customers, out of anger, sacked bank staff, in some cases attack them because of non-availability of money to dispense, adding that the Police had since arrested 15 persons for the crime.
She lamented that Oron was one of the places “where customers converged at various bank premises for several days without money to pay them, while the agitated customers protested and caused commotion in banking halls.”
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Eyakenyi, however, expressed concern about the “heavy hardship orchestrated by this continuous shutdown of banks in Oron despite assurances by the Nigeria Police that they have taken punitive measures and absolute control to avert similar occurrence.”
Contributing, Senator Binos Yaroe (PDP Adamawa South), urged the Senate in session to direct its Committee on Banking, Insurance and other Financial Institutions to investigate the causes of banks shut down in the last 10 years with a view to ensuring that all monies deposited by their customers are paid to them.
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