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Moving People


  • BBC

Nigeria's naira shortage: Banks attacked in Warri and Benin City

Angry protests have broken out in some Nigerian towns and cities as people struggle to get hold of new banknotes.

Frustration has been building for weeks after a shortage of the newly designed naira notes led to a lack of cash.

Some customers in southern Nigeria's Warri and Benin City reportedly set fire to two commercial banks.

Nigerians have faced long queues at cash machines with some sleeping outside banks to try and be first in line to get some money.

People say they have been forced to skip meals and work without cash to pay for food or transport to their jobs.

Some banks were broken into while protesters looted their cash machines. In Benin City, customers attempted to invade the Central Bank of Nigeria's (CBN) local offices but security officers fired tear gas at them.

The CBN said it redesigned the higher denomination notes - 200, 500 and 1,000 naira - to replace the dirty cash in circulation, tackle inflation, curb counterfeiting and promote a cashless society.

Nigerians were told last October about the change and were encouraged to deposit any cash savings in the bank.

But not enough of the new notes have been released in a country where cash is still widely used. An estimated 40% of the population do not have access to bank accounts.

Protesters in Ibadan blocked roads while crowds have attacked Central Bank offices and other commercial banks in anger at not being able to withdraw their savings. Footage gathered by BBC Yoruba and circulating over social media shows protesters expressing their frustrations.

It comes just 10 days before elections in the country - President Muhammadu Buhari is facing calls to take action to avoid losing votes for the ruling All Progressives Congress.

The bank had issued a 10 February deadline for the old notes to cease being legal tender, but the Supreme Court stopped it as a result of a legal challenge from 10 states.

The case was due to resume on Wednesday but has been delayed until next week, just three days before the elections.




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