Residents of Akenfa community, in Yenagoa Local Government Area of Bayelsa State, on Friday, took to the streets to protest the continued rejection of the old N500 and N1000 notes by traders in the state.
The protesters, made up of mostly women, youths and a handful of men, displayed placards with various inscriptions including “Bank refuses the old cash but they are still dispensing it, why?” and “Attention, Attention, we are dying, banks give old notes but marketers reject it.”
The Supreme Court had ordered that the old N500 and N1000 notes should be allowed to be in circulation along with the new notes until December 31, 2023.
The aggrieved residents blocked the major Mbiama-Yenagoa Road for hours, crippling vehicular movement and commercial activities around the Akenfa axis.
Lamenting their ordeal, one of the residents, Mrs Debora Ebi, said they can’t further cope with the manner the old banknotes are rejected in the state, adding that the charges from POS are very terrible and high.
Expressing frustration over the continued rejection of old N500 and N1000 notes, she said her inability to do any transaction has made her family vulnerable to hunger since the monetary policy came into being.
A trader, Madam Tokoni said banks are giving old naira notes but refuse to accept deposits of the old naira note from customers.
“If I sell and collect old notes, how will I transact business when others won’t receive? We have suffered. Our family members are dying of hunger. No food. Market is not moving. Why is government treating us like this? We heard other states are accepting the old naira notes, but the story is different in Bayelsa State, why?” she said.
A former Bayelsa State Civil Liberties Organisation (CLO) secretary, Comrade Alagoa Morris said the issue is a clear case of “when two elephants fight, the grass suffers.”
He said: “As a matter of fact, it is sad, unfortunate and very unacceptable this suffering that has reduced Nigerian to the level where their dignity as human beings have been denied them, including avoidable deaths. The continued denial of cash even after the Supreme Court’s ruling speaks volumes that this is a country where the rule of law is not practised.”