Idahosa Moses – Benin City
Three persons were on Wednesday feared dead in Benin City following the spontaneous protest that engulfed several parts of Benin over Naira redesign policy by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).
The protesters blocked Ring Road, Akpakpava Road, Ramat Park, Five Junction by Urubi, Ugbowo road, Ekehuna road and the adjoining streets Benin causing heavy traffic gridlock.
The angry protesters made burn fires on the roads and attacked commercial banks in the area.
It however took the intervention of the military personnel who in troops drove across the State capital to serve the situation.
The protesters, despite the presence of the security personnel, regrouped and became more violent leading to the alleged killings of three persons by security operatives.
Speaking to our correspondent at the scene of the protest, Godwin Osemwingie, said he was so frustrated when he went out to buy things with his old naira notes but was told by the seller that the old naira notes were no longer acceptable in the country.
“The problem right now is that we went to bank to deposit my old naira notes, they said they are not accepting it and even the bus drivers are also rejecting it.
“You cannot buy anything. I just went to the Bank, look at the money (displaying the old naira noted before our correspondent), this is Nigeria money and they are rejecting it. How do they want us to survive? We can’t buy and we can’t sell.
“Even the CBN has rejected the old money from us, why? That is why we are protesting.
“Look, all these money in my hands are now wasted. We can’t even board vehicle now. We need our old money back. I am going to Upper Sakponba and I want to trek to the place now, no money,” Osemwingie said.
Another respondent, Osasere Enadaghe, said he just went to change his 50 Euro with the assurance that the old and new naira notes can co-exist but was disappointed when the old naira notes were rejected.
“What I see in this place now is very typical for us. We are passing through a difficult times. We don’t know where we are going or where we are coming from.
“I am just coming from Upper Sakponba this morning to change my money and before changing it, they told me that they collect both the old and the new money.
“So, I went to the market to buy things but I was told that the cannot collect the old naira notes.
“I just changed fifth Euro this morning and I was given N30,000 old naira notes and the money is just a waste in my hand. What am I going to do with the money now?” He asked rhetorically.
For Precious Oruche, she went to the CBN along Akpakpava Road to deposit her old naira notes but she and others were driven out by security agents attached to the bank.
“It is frustrating. We did not see new money and we didn’t see old money. The little ones we have, you said deadline and now that we want to return it, the CBN said no way.
“It feels that the government has bent on frustrating Nigerians on a daily basis. Okay, I want to buy pure water, we I make a transfer of N10 to the seller and if the person accepts, what about the internet issues?
“People you see protesting, they really don’t want it but they are frustrated, Nigerians are frustrated, they have to stop.
“The people that they said they are doing it for, they have banks.
“So it is the poor masses that are suffering it. We are calling on the Nigerian government to make a fast U-turn before things go over board
“The CBN is no longer accepting the old naira notes. We have been here since morning.
“They gave us forms to fill and later use the security personnel attached to the bank to ask us to leave. That is why the people got angry,” Oruche said.
Contacting the Public Relations Officer of the Edo State Police Command, SP Chidi Nwabuzor for comment on the number of deaths resulting from the protest, he said it was too premature for him to speak on the matter.
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