At least four protesters were reported dead on Wednesday when violence erupted in Benin and its environs in Edo State over cash swap policy of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).
It was gathered that two of the deceased were young men and women hit by direct gunshots from policemen in front of the CBN’s branch by the popular Ring Road.
The policemen also fired tear gas canisters, to disperse the surging crowd of protesters.
One of the protesters, who declined to give his name, told our reporter in front of CBN, that he saw the bodies of the four victims with three of them hurriedly evacuated by policemen.
Fully-armed soldiers and policemen prevented the depositors from moving close to the main entrance of the CBN’s branch.
The protesters angrily vandalised commercial banks in the neighbourhood.
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The police operatives shot directly at the protesters and sporadically into the air while the displeased depositors also pelted the speeding vehicles of the security personnel with stones and other dangerous objects.
Most of the major roads in Benin and its environs were blocked by the protesters, who made bonfires on them, with motorists hanging leaves on their vehicles to prevent being attacked and to show solidarity.
Edo Police Public Relations Officer (PPRO), the Chidi Nwabuzor, a Superintendent of Police (SP), could not be reached for reaction as of the time of filing this report.
In another development, another round of protests broke out on in several states across the country, including Oyo, Delta, and Kwara , over the scarcity of the new N200, N500, N1,000 notes and rejection of the old naira bills.
ADULAWO NEWS reports that protests turned violent in Ibadan, Oyo State and Udu, near Warri, the commercial hub of Delta State.
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There were demonstrations in different parts of Ibadan, such as Mokola, resulting in a gridlock along Eleyele/Eruwa road.
Cars were turned back at some point while some schoolchildren were forced to return home as a result of the protest.
Bank signage destroyed during protest in Ibadan on Wednesday, February 15, 2023
Commercial activities were grounded as the Mokola Road was turned into a football field.
Most major roads were deserted as many residents resorted to trekking long distances.
Bank ATM destroyed during protest in Ibadan on Wednesday, February 15, 2023
Some fish sellers took their protest to a private radio station in Ibadan, claiming that they sold all their products on Tuesday, accepting the old notes but on getting to the strongrooms to their bank to deposit the funds, no one was willing to sell to them.
Crowds were seen in front of the CBN office at Dugbe waiting to be attended to in the bid to change old naira notes amid heavy security presence.
Bank premises destroyed during protest in Ibadan on Wednesday, February 15, 2023
In Delta, the ongoing rampage blocked the major highway with bonfires and other objects at their disposal, destroying automated teller machines (ATMs) belonging to some banks in the area.
Angry youths protested the scarcity of the new redesigned naira notes and the rejection of the old notes by people.
The demonstrations first broke out at Orhuwhorun junction before spreading to the expressway.
Part of the buildings of banks were vandalised by the mob who hurled stones and other objects at the premises, priompting bank workers and their customers to scamper for safety.
Meanwhile, the Delta State Governor, Ifeanyi Okowa has appealed for calm and patience.
Okowa’s appeal was contained in a statement by the state Commissioner for Information, Charles Aniagwu.
He called on the people to remain calm while also appealing to the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and the monetary authorities to take further steps in increasing the money supply in the system.
“We appeal to our brothers and sisters across the state to keep calm in spite of the current travails they are going through as a result of the scarcity of naira notes in the country,” the statement read in part.
“As a government, we are not unaware of your sufferings but we appeal to you to be patient with the monetary authorities as they take steps to improve the money supply in the country.
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“We are very much aware of your pains and concerns, but burning down a bank that employs our people will not augur well for us as a nation even as it will not also solve the problem but will further compound the situation.
“Once again, we appeal to you all to sheath your swords while we continue to engage the cbn to ensure more funds are released to the banks in the country.”
The governor’s appeal comes on the heels of protests by some citizens of the state at Orhuwhorun community in Udu Local Government Area (LGA) of the state where a bank’s ATM gallery was reportedly torched.