By Sunday Ani

A Coalition of Civil Society Groups (CCSGs) has called on the commercials banks in Nigerians to desist from inflicting more pains on Nigerians by making available the new naira notes, threatening to shut down the banks if by the end of the week, Nigerians were still unable to access the new notes from the various bank’s Automated Teller Machines (ATM) across the country.

The warning was handed down by the president of the group, Dr. Bassey Etuk Williams on Tuesday in Lagos during a peaceful protest to register Nigerians’ dissatisfaction with the banks over the development.

Dr. Williams condemned the commercial banks for deliberately hoarding the new naira notes and urged them to comply urgently with the guidelines of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN). “We are aware that the banks are making the new naira notes very difficult for Nigerians to access. We are warning them that they should not inflict more suffering on Nigerians because Nigerians have suffered enough. They should make available the new naira notes to Nigerians as soon as possible. Nigerians should be able to go to the banks and access the new naira as instructed by the CBN. If this does not happen this week, we will shut down all the banks; enough is enough,” he warned.

He also called on the anti-graft agencies, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC), to immediately swing into action and arrest all the bank officials that are corrupt and found wanting in the disbursement and hoarding of the new naira notes.

He reiterated the groups’ support for the CBN Governor, Mr. Godwin Emefiele. He said: “We are in support of what the CBN is doing. We are in support of the Emefiele-led CBN. We are equally in support of the new deadline that has been shifted to February 10. We are here to make it emphatically clear that we are against the commercial banks because they are not adhering to the rules and regulations of the CBN.”

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The groups regretted that while the generality of Nigerians embraced the new monetary policy of the CBN, the ruling class and a section of the country were opposing it and doing everything possible to frustrate the process.

They warned that as the conscience of the society, they would not stand by and watch few unpatriotic Nigerians to sabotage the policy. “We want to warn those involved in the sabotage effort to desist and join hands in ensuring that the extension given is well utilized. We will not hesitate to shut down any bank fingered in this sabotage process,” the warned.

The protesters, who marched to headquarters of some banks on Marina Lagos, displayed several placards with inscriptions like, We say no to hoarding of new naira notes; Nigerians want new naira notes now; Nigerians demand new naira notes in all ATMs; EFCC arrest bank officials hoarding new naira notes; CBN sanction defaulting banks now; banks are sabotaging the efforts of CBN; Nigerians support CBN policies and we support new naira note design among. As they marched to the banks, they sang and danced to, “All we are saying, give us new naira notes.”