.Youths set two banks ablaze
.As Obaseki calls for Oshiomhole’s arrest, orders tight security
.Sanwo-Olu warns against rejection of old notes
.Traders beg FG to prevail on banks to collect notes
.Okowa , Makinde , AbdulRazaq appeal for calm
Three persons were allegedly feared killed on Wednesday in Benin City, Edo State capital following the violent protests that erupted in several parts of Benin City over the scarcity of new redesigned naira notes and the rejection of old notes by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), traders and others in the state.
The protesters blocked ever busy Ring Road, Akpakpava Road, Ramat Park, Five Junction by Urubi, Ugbowo road, Ekewan road and the adjoining streets in Benin City.
Daily Champion observed that the protests caused heavy traffic gridlock as the angry protesters made bonfires on the roads and attacked First Bank, GT Bank, UBA, Eco Bank, Zenith Bank, Access Bank and others all in Benin City.
But it took the intervention of the military personnel who drove across the City to restore normalcy.
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 newsmen on the incident, one of the protesters, 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 legal tender in the country.
According to him, “The problem right now is that I went to the 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, 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.”
The Police Public Relations Officer (PPRO) of the Edo State Police Command, SP Chidi Nwabuzor could not be reached for comment on the alleged number of deaths from the protest
Meanwhile, Governor Godwin Obaseki of Edo State on Wednesday asked security agents to arrest his predecessor, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, over the naira scarcity protest which led to the death of some persons.
Briefing newsmen in Benin, the state capital, Obaseki, who spoke through the Commissioner for Communication and Orientation, Chris Nehikhare, said from prelimiary investigations, the protest was politically motivated.
He said the call for Oshiomhole’s arrest and questioning became necessary following a viral video where the former national chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC) instigated the people to go on rampage.
“We have been around the city all day, speaking with some of the protesters and we have done our investigations. We discovered that it is more than meets the eye.
“At this juncture, we will like to call on security agencies to call Adams Oshiomhole for questioning. He should be arrested and made to account for his movement in the last few days especially here in Benin City. Oshiomhole deliberately instigated the protest of the people.
He alleged that Oshiomhole instigated the violence to destroy government properties in such a way “to bring anarchy to our city because his government is about to lose the forthcoming general elections”, adding that the states which riot took place were PDP control states.
But contrary to his claim, riots also broke out in Ondo, which is governed by the ruling APC.
“I know people will think the protest is as a result of lack of naira notes but even if that is the case, Nigerians should know which political party is involved because it is ironic the political party that is responsible for this policy is the same party sending people to destroy PDP billboards,” Nehikhare said.
In his response, Oshiomhole’s spokesman, Victor Oshioke, denied the allegation, saying Oshiomhole is busy campaigning for the APC presidential candidate and himself.
The former governor is the APC candidate for the February 25 election in Edo North Senatorial district.
“Oshiomhole has no time to call for violence because the people of Edo love him. Obaseki and his people are rattled and nervous by the growing acceptance Oshiomhole gets any where he goes to in the state.
“They want to blackmail him because they have seen his acceptance after almost eight years in government against Obaseki’s government who had failed woefully. The people are happy with Oshiomhole because of his performance which Obaseki can’t match, and they want to distract him” he said.
He said Oshiomhole didn’t made any inciting statement to suggest that anybody should riot, adding that he is busy campaigning to Edo North people for his senatorial ambition.
“If Oshiomhole could not instigate people in past elections, while would he now instigate violence now that he is contesting and the people are with him. In Etsako where he is campaigning, there is no riot. And Obaseki is from Benin, so, he should check himself” he stated.
The Edo State Governor, Mr. Godwin Obaseki, has urged for calm among residents of Edo State, as security operatives have been deployed to protect banking assets in the state to ensure the disbursement of cash to citizens.
The governor made the call while addressing journalists at the Government House in Benin City, on Wednesday, after a closed-door meeting with heads of security agencies in the state.
Obaseki expressed displeasure over the protests in Benin City, the state capital, adding that the state government will do its best to ensure that residents in the state are able to withdraw their cash from the banks in the state.
He noted, “We just concluded our security council meeting over the incident that took place in our city today. It’s something we are concerned and very sad about. It is just a culmination of the pains and sufferings expressed by our citizens.
“As a government, we tried to do as much as we could have, to make sure that citizens are able to draw cash deposited in their accounts, and unfortunately, that has not happened the way we expected and it has led to some agitations and concerns by people in the city.
“From what happened today, we can tell clearly that the people who undertook the damages of banks and banking assets were not depositors as many of them were area boys. We met and resolved to restore security to the state and the banking institutions. Security men have been deployed and will remain in banking premises to keep calm.”
The governor added, “We are putting pressure on the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) authorities to do what they should do to release cash to citizens and have requested for security to do so.
The plan is that from tomorrow morning, security men would give support for disbursement of cash through POS operators in our markets and as soon as they can restore safety and sanity to the banks, then the bank will open to disburse cash to citizens.
“We want all citizens to be vigilant to make sure the situation is not hijacked so that things will not go out of control. We feel the pain of our people and as a government, we would continue to do everything we can to reduce the pain our people are going through.”
Also, the Lagos State Government wishes to put on record the patience and calmness of Lagosians following the controversy generated by the Naira shortage crisis.
The State Government has joined the dispute at the Supreme Court, which today adjourned the hearing of the matter till February 22. When the matter first came up on February 8, the apex court said the old notes remained legal tender.
That position has not changed. The State Government hereby warns those rejecting the old notes to desist from doing so or face prosecution. It is against the law to reject the old notes as doing so is contrary to the position of the Supreme Court.
Governor Sanwo-Olu urges Lagosians to remain law-abiding and shun mischief makers who may exploit this temporary situation to promote their anti-people agenda. He is confident that the Judiciary will resolve all the issues around the currency shortage crisis.
To cushion the effect of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) directive on the old notes, especially on the vulnerable among us, Lagos State has started the distribution of the food packs promised by the Governor. The 50% fares slash on all state transportation facilities continues, as directed by Mr Governor.
However, Traders across major markets in Ibadan,Oyo State, on Wednesday staged a protest, calling on both the Federal and State Governments to prevail on commercial banks in the state to collect old naira notes from them.
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,” he stated.
Also, Governor of Oyo State, ‘Seyi Makinde, has again, called on residents of the state to demonstrate restraints over the biting hardship occasioned by the Naira redesign policy of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), noting that violence would not solve the problem on the ground.
This is just as Security Commanders in the state have declared that they would be firm against hoodlums who might try to hijack the peaceful protests by Oyo State residents over the ongoing scarcity of new Naira notes.
A statement by the Chief Press Secretary to Governor Makinde, Mr. Taiwo Adisa, indicated that while the governor addressed residents of the state from Igbojaye, Itesiwaju Local Government, where he is concluding a three-day stretch of campaigning in the four local governments in Iseyin Federal Constituency, the Security Commanders spoke in Ibadan, after an on-the-spot assessment of the situation in the state capital, on Wednesday.
cautious so that hoodlums and political interests do not hijack their peaceful protests and cause violence and unrest in the state.
He said: “This is just an on-the-spot assessment of the situation in Ibadan. Going round the places, we took off from Aleshinloye area up to Eleyele through junction of Ologuneru up to Ijokodo, Sango, U.I, Agodi here and up to Iwo-Road. And what we have seen is that this really happened in some parts of Ibadan but not the entire town.
“From what we saw at Eleyele road, some people were burning tires and they were appealed to remove them. Situation has returned to normal and people are coming out to go about their lawful businesses, and security operatives are at those areas where hoodlums may want to take advantage to ensure such does not happen.
frustrations over the naira scarcity.
“I testify to the inconvenience this development has brought. We are in this together, and we are not missing any opportunity to work with the CBN and the Federal Government to bring ease to the people within reasonable time. I admit it has been tough, and we do not take your patience for granted,” he said.
“I sincerely appeal to you to remain calm. We are a resilient people who are popular for our peaceful nature and our history of seeking reliefs with calmness and absolute restraints. This is a passionate appeal to the good people of Kwara State. Again, I share in your pains, and I urge you to exercise the highest level of restraints as we surmount this challenge together.”
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