From Ighomuaye Lucky, Benin

The Edo Civil Society Organizations (EDOSCO), yesterday, took its protest over naira crunch to the gate of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Benin branch.

The protesters who brandished placards of various inscriptions depicting their grievances, blocked the Akpakpava axis of the road, leading to a major gridlock at the city centre and its adjoining streets.

The leader of the civil rights group and former Coordinator General of EDOSCO, Comrade Omobude Agho told CBN officials during the protest that the CBN financial policy is killing Nigerians and crippling business activities in the state.

He said the CBN has deliberately starved the Commercial banks and the POS operators funds having lured Nigerians to deposit all their old naira notes.

“Sir, these are Nigerians ably led by the Edo Civil Society Organizations.

“We are here because Nigerians have started dying inside their houses.

“Since the day, you, Godwin Emefiele came up with the new policy of not being able to withdraw not more than N20,000 in the bank, you also said you have extended the date for expiration of the old naira notes  from the 31 of January to 10 of February.

” In all of these, you are retrieving the old money and you refused to give us the new money.

“You said we should start using electronics means, ATMs and POS.

“And you people failed to give the commercial banks the money to stock their ATMs, you people still didn’t allow the commercial banks to allow the money gets to the POS operators.

“As at today, we use N3,000 to buy N10,000 in Nigeria, this is not dollars anymore.

“We are now using naira to buy naira” Agho said.

Agho said the CBN should step up its game to relieve the citizens of the state of the current hardship brought upon them by its policy adding that what they just started was just a peaceful show as they are coming back for a more radical actions against the CBN branch in the state.

“Sir, we came here with a peaceful protest just to give our warning.

” I came to show up my face and if you want to order for my arrest, you can go ahead with it sir because after today, the 7th of February, 2023, if we don’t see any changes, we cannot guarantee what may happen days after” he said.

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He accused the CBN Governor, Godwin Emefiele of not being sincere with Nigerians.

“Many of these politicians that are telling us these stories, their families are not in Nigeria.

“This same man who is trying to be economical with money, Emefiele, took N100m to purchase APC Presidential forms, this same man branded over 60 vehicles for his political campaigns”, Agho alleged.

Venting her anger at the protest ground, Mrs. Ameze Omorose, a widow, said she and her children are dying of hunger and that the bank should give her, her money.

“I went to POS no money, I went to the Bank also no money and my children are hungry and I am hungry too.

“This is the money I am using for my business.

“I am a widow. My husband died last year”, Omorose said.

Another aggrieved bank customer, Godwin Idodoha, said he has been to three banks and non was dispensing money.

“My children are hungry, I have trekked a very long distance to this place and when I saw this crowd of protesters, I decided to join them to express my anger.

“I have been to three banks to withdraw money but I couldn’t get any money”, Idodoha lamented

On his part, Comptroller, CBN, Benin, Mr. Raina Johnbo, appealed to the citizens of the state to be patient as machineries have been put in place to ease their suffering just as he gave the reasons the CBN came out with the redesigning of the naira.

“I want to tell you what we have done. We are not unmindful of what you are going through.

“As you are not seeing this naira so also we are not seeing it too.

“We are pleading with you people to be patient.

“The money will circulate. We have pushed out the lesser denominations to cushion the effects of hardship”, Johnbo said.