ASSBIFI warns against panic withdrawals, naira scarcity persists

The Association of Senior Staff of Banks, Insurance and Financial Institutions has linked the cause of cash crunch in the country to panic withdrawals by bank customers, and activities of misguided individuals engaging in the unethical practice of hoarding naira notes for personal gain.

In a statement issued by the National President, ASSBIFI, Olusoji Oluwole, the association advised those hoarding the naira notes to desist from such, linking such actions to the surging inflation bedevilling the economy.

While urging the general public not to make panic withdrawals, he said the Central Bank of Nigeria had announced the indefinite acceptance of the old denominations as legal tender.

The statement said, “ASSBIFI has observed that the claimed scarcity of naira notes was a result of panic withdrawals by bank customers out of fear of the sufferings and hardship experienced early this year, and activities of ignorant and unscrupulous persons who elected to hoard the naira notes for unethical gains, inflicting pains and hardship on innocent and vulnerable fellow Nigerians.

“ASSBIFI implores its members who happen to be the interface between Money Deposit Banks and the general public to remain focused and avoid distractions in the discharge of their responsibilities, as the CBN continues to work with banks to ensure adequate supply and distribution of naira notes, especially at this festive period.

“ASSBIFI commends the resilience of bank workers, and advises the general public to remain calm and safe by desisting from holding excess cash that may put them at unnecessary risk.”

Meanwhile, findings by The PUNCH have shown that the pressure on naira scarcity is still being felt in some parts of the country, despite assurance of sufficient cash in circulation by the CBN.

Customers, who spoke to The PUNCH on Wednesday, expressed concerns over their inability to access enough cash for transactions.

A resident of the FCT, Adeyemi Adekunle, said, “There is still not enough cash in town. I paid N1,000 to withdraw N20,000 today from PoS.”

At Kuje Area Council of the FCT, a hairdresser, Ojochenemi Atuluku, however said the said she was able to withdraw N40,000 at the First Bank ATM stand but added that it was because she visited the bank earlier today.

At Jabi, the Zenith Bank ATM did not dispense cash, while the banking hall had few customers.

When asked if they could give up to N100,000 over the counter, one of the bank’s workers said the maximum daily withdrawal was still N10,000.

“You can only withdraw N10,000 over the counter,” he said.

A First Bank staff at Lifia branch, Nasarawa State, said, “We have begun to experience relief from the pressure. We have received enough cash since Monday and have started disbursing to our customers through ATM and over the counter withdrawal.”

Some fuel stations in the FCT were insisting on cash from customers for fuel purchase.

A motorist, Jacob Oyedele, lamented his inability to purchase fuel at a filling station because he lacked cash.

He said, “I was at the filling station to purchase fuel today but I couldn’t because I did not have enough cash. The fuel attendants refused to sell unless I gave them cash.”