(VIDEO) Shortage of cash results in fisticuffs at Nigeria banks
There were bizarre scenes in Nigeria as banking halls were turned into wrestling rings after many customers stormed the facilities to withdraw cash.
Crowds numbering hundreds stormed an Access Bank branch to demand money, with security having a tough time controlling the clients.
Some clients were captured on video in a bloody fight in the banking hall of an unidentified bank, with the guard metal railings for demarcation being used as weapons.
The cause of the fight is not immediately known, but two men dressed in casual outfits decided to settle their differences by throwing blows.
By the time an official could calm tempers, the free-for-all fight had resulted in the destruction of property owned by the financial institution.
The turmoil in the West African country is due to a shortage of cash to facilitate transactions after reforms by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).
Reports from the country suggest that many citizens do not have access to enough cash to buy and sell and also engage in other financial transactions.
The apex bank has embarked on measures to replace its paper money with newly designed currency notes and push for a cashless economy.
However, the implementation process has been characterised by major challenges.
The CBN redesigned denominations of 200 naira (43 U.S. cents), 500 naira ($1.08) and 1,000 naira ($2.17) Notes.
A cap on large cash withdrawals by the apex bank is also expected to address money laundering and digitise financial transactions.
As of October 2022, more than 80 percent of the 3.2 trillion naira ($7.2 billion) in circulation in Nigeria was in private hands, but 75 percent of that has now been deposited with financial institutions, the Associated Press quotes the central bank governor, Godwin Emefiele.
Nigerians were given a January 31, 2023, deadline to deposit all their old banknotes for newly printed currency.
But the scarcity of new notes prompted the CBN to extend the deadline to February 10, 2023.
This was after approval by President Muhammadu Buhari to ensure a successful cash-swapping process, especially in rural areas and towns far from the cities.
It is also known that many people who had deposited cash ahead of the deadline could not gain access to cash due to long queues at ATMs and many customers at various banks.