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The destruction of banks in the Sagamu area of Ogun State in the wake of the protests that trailed cash scarcity in the country is taking a toll on residents of Sagamu as residents of the Ogun community now travel as far as Ijebu Ode and Ikorodu part of Lagos State to withdraw money, reports Kunle Akinrinade
WHEN Aina Ola, a Lagos-based ICT engineer received a phone call from his mother from Makun area of Sagamu, Ogun State, he did not expect that she would be asking him for cash just two days after he sent her N10,000 for her drugs and house rent. But as she would later reveal to him, the bulk of the money was taken as charges at the Point of Sales (PoS) outlet where she got the cash from.
She said she paid N3,000 to collect the N10,000 I sent to her three days earlier. Hence she pleaded that I send her an additional sum,” Ola said.
“I had to travel down to her residence in Sagamu last week to give her additional N5,000 in cash since she is aged.
When I got to her house, I ended up giving out the entire N10,000 cash on me to her aged neighbours who had no money to feed and were helpless.”
Felix Adenuga, a Lagos-based insurance executive also told our correspondent that he had to travel to Sagamu last weekend to give his father some new naira notes.
He said: “Before now, I would only send money into my father’s bank account for his upkeep. But since the cash scarcity has been exacerbated by the burning of banks in Sagamu, my father requests cash.
“I had to travel home last weekend to give him some cash which I got from a PoS operator with very high charges.
It will be recalled that several old and new generation banks were on February 20 razed by irate youths, who were angered that they could not withdraw cash from banks in the community.
The angry youths had started the protest in front of the palace of the Akarigbo of Remoland, Oba Babatunde Ajayi, before spreading out to other parts of the town.
No fewer than 11 commercial banks in the area including Union Bank, GTB, First Bank, Polaris Bank, Keystone Bank, Sterling Bank, Stanbic IBTC, UBA, Zenith Bank, and Access Bank (two branches) were razed by protesters who blocked Akarigbo Road in Sagamu, where many of the banks are located.
Human and vehicular movements were halted by the protesters who also blocked roads in the Sabo area of the ancient town, chanting war songs to convey their anger against the closure of banks and the inability to withdraw money from Automated Teller Machines (ATMs) in the town.
Chanting “no voting”, “we will not vote on Saturday” in Yoruba, the irate youths vandalised the banks’ buildings, ATMs and Sagamu Local Government secretariat as council workers at the secretariat scampered into safety.
No fewer than 27 suspects were subsequently arrested by men of Ogun State Police Command for their complicity in the violent protests and attacks on banks in the community
Ola and Adenuga’s parents are not the only residents of Sagamu bearing the painful effect of the cash scarcity in the country. However, the problem is worsted by the mob’s recent destruction of banks in Sagamu in the wake of the protests trailing the cash crunch crisis.
Since the banks were razed, residents have been travelling to as far as Ijebu Ode and Ikorodu in Lagos State to withdraw cash from ATM points, saying they have become the subject of cruel jokes and mockery.
According to a resident, Muyideen Ogunnaike, the past few weeks have been tough for residents as they have had to make fruitless visits to ATMs at some of the banks in Ijebu Ode and Ikorodu.
The youths that burnt the banks in Sagamu did not consider the consequences of their misguided action when they carried out the dastardly act. Now, we have been bearing the brunt of that incident as we now have to go to places far from Sagamu to get cash from banks where there are ATM machines.
“As I speak with you, I have just returned from Ikorodu with nothing to show for my trip to the place because there were too many people in the queue waiting for their turn to withdraw money from ATM.
Many of us that travelled all the way from Sagamu to Ikorodu were jeered at by Ikorodu residents. They mocked us, saying that we have come to withdraw cash meant for them after destroying the bank branches in our community.
Like Ogunnaike, Ibironke Kamal said she went through hell before she could get N5,000 from two ATM machines in Ikorodu after hours of futile attempts
I left my home in the Ijaka area of Sagamu for Ikorodu around 5.30 am. I got to Ikorodu before 7 am and I met a lot of people at a First Bank branch around Odogunyan.
“I was number 150 in the queue. I left after the ATM at the bank stopped dispensing cash just before noon penultimate Wednesday.
While I was there, a lot of people from Sagamu were also there and the people we met there told the security men around to allow Ikorodu residents cash money before people like us who travelled down to disturb them after destroying the banks and ATM machines in our town.
“I then moved to the ATM Gallery of Guaranty Trust Bank inside the former Lagos State Polytechnic (LASPOTECH) now Lagos State University of Science and Technology (LASUSTECH) where I was able to get N3,000.
But I needed N5,000. Hence, I again visited the ATM at the nearby Polaris Bank inside the university where one of the people in the queue helped me to get N2,000 from the ATM machine.”
The story was not different for Sagamu residents who went to Ijebu Ode for the purpose of withdrawing cash from bank ATMs.
One of them, Haruna Adesanya, said he turned back at an ATM point in the town after an altercation between another Sagamu resident and an Ijebu Ode man in the queue turned rowdy and almost caused a stampede at a branch of an old generation bank.
Adesanya said: “I left my home in the Ofin area of Sagamu in the early hours of last Tuesday in order to get some cash from the ATM in Ijebu Ode.
Unfortunately, when I got to one of the branches of a popular old generation bank, some of the residents turned us into the butt of jokes, saying that we should not vandalise the bank as we did to the banks in Sagamu.
“At a point, the gloating led to an altercation and the scene became rowdy such that it almost resulted in a stampede as people ran in different directions after the exchange of blows between the people involved in the altercation.
However, I got a reprieve when normalcy was restored by the bank’s security men and one of the people on the queue helped me to use my ATM card to cash some money.
“It is painful that banks that could have served us well and helped us with little cash to survive the cash scarcity were razed by youths in a fit of fury during a recent peaceful protest that turned violent moments later.
Operators of PoS cash centres in Sagamu and its environs now charge between N2,000 to 3,000 on N5,000 withdrawal, hence people don’t mind travelling to Ijebu Ode or Ikorodu to get cash from ATMs.”
A community leader, Alhaji Moshood Okeowo, urged the state government to appeal to the management of the affected banks to reconsider rebuilding their vandalised branches and opening for business again.
According to him, even when the new naira notes are no longer scarce, Sagamu residents would for a long time have difficulty enjoying banking services or getting cash as a result of the absence of banks in the area.
He said: “The wanton destruction of several banks in Sagamu by misguided youths is condemnable. However, the aftermath has created hardship for people as we now have to travel to distant places like Ikorodu and Ketu in Lagos State as well as Ijebu Ode to make use of ATM points
The experience has been harrowing and stressful, especially for aged people like us who lack the physical and mental stamina to queue up in the scorching sun at ATMs in Lagos and Ijebu Ode.
He added: “I paid nothing less than N8,000 as charges on N25,000 withdrawal when I patronised an operator of PoS centre in my neighbourhood a few days ago, and it is the same experience for others.
Therefore, I am appealing to the Ogun State Government led by Governor Dapo Abiodun to beg the management of the banks razed to renovate them and resume banking activities in earnest. Otherwise, residents would continue to suffer long after cash scarcity might have been over.”
Culled from the Nation.
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