From Timothy Olanrewaju, Maiduguri

Scarcity of naira notes resulting from the Central Bank of Nigeria’s currency redesign policy is affecting the military’s counter-insurgency operations in the country’s volatile northeast states, Chairman Senate Committee on Army, Senator Ali Ndume has said.

Ndume, who represents Borno South in the Senate, told journalists in Maiduguri, Borno’s capital yesterday that he decided to cry out because he was worried at the negative impact of the scarcity of naira notes on troops’ operation against terror groups –  Boko Haram and Islamic State in West Africa Province (ISWAP).

“The CBN cashless policy which brought scarcity of the new naira notes is affecting the security operations negatively,” he said.

He said many troops have to leave their duties and queue at ATM for hours, looking for cash to buy basic things for their needs, which may not be within what the military authority should provide for the operation.

He cited a case of a soldier that was lynched at an ATM by angry crowd in Maiduguri, mid-week, while attempting to jump a long queue to save time and return to duty within the hours given to him by his commander.

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He explained that it was not good for security personnel deployed to battlefields to end terrorism and other criminal activities to be distracted because of cash scarcity. He urged the authority to provide ways to ease this challenge as it could compromise the security of the nation and gains achieved in the war against terrorists in northeast.

“I call on the CBN to make sure that the cash needed by the military and other security agencies for their operations is adequately provided. As it is now, they are finding it difficult to access cash especially the new notes,” he said.

Sen Ndume maintained the cashless policy by the CBN was good but said its implementation was a breach of the constitution and right of Nigeria.

“There is no problem with redesigning currency. But such policy should not make people suffer. Any policy that conflicts with the interest of the people is illegal.

“Section 14 (2) of the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, the purpose of government is for security and welfare of its citizenry. This policy has adversely and negatively affected the welfare of Nigerians. The policy is in conflict with the constitution and any policy that contravenes the constitution, is null and void,” he declared.

He urged the CBN management to listen to the cries of Nigerians. He said the idea of mopping up money outside the banking system was not tenable as many politicians and rich people still have access to the new notes while ordinary Nigerians with less money suffer.