Protests engulfed many parts of Benin City, the Edo State capital, on Wednesday following the inability of residents to spend their old naira notes, with the protesters targeting mostly banks.
From Ekehuan Road to Uselu Shell to Akpakpava to Ring Road and many other parts of the city, the protesters expressed their anger that commercial bus drivers were rejecting the old naira notes in their possession and traders were also insisting on the new notes.
The protests are coming on the heels of the Supreme Court’s adjournment of hearing on a suit filed by the governments of Kaduna, Zamfara and Kogi States against the new naira policy of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).
The CBN had earlier set February 10 as deadline for the old N200, N500 and N1,000 banknotes to cease to be legal tender, but the Supreme Court last week granted an interim injunction restraining the Federal Government, CBN, commercial banks and other related parties from implementing the deadline.
But on Wednesday, February 15, the Supreme Court did not hear the case but adjourned hearing till February 22 after joining eight other states to the suit.
It would appear that the news of the adjournment worsened the frustration that residents were already facing over the scarcity of the new notes as protests quickly erupted in many parts of Benin City.
At Uselu Shell, the protesters unleashed their venom on a GTBank branch at new Lagos Road, throwing stones at the bank building.
There were also protests at Asoro Bus Stop along Ekehuan Road, where protesters blocked the roads following refusal by commercial bus drivers and traders on that axis to accept the old naira notes.
A First Bank branch at Ring Road came under siege, with gunshots ringing out occasionally, although The Nigerian Observer could not immediately ascertain who fired the shots. Gunshots were also heard at Oliha.
In many parts of the city, passengers who were in possession of the old naira notes were seen walking long distances to their destinations, while some others stood hoping to see bus drivers who would accept the old notes.
At Akpakpava, the protesters attacked some banks, while security operatives attached to CBN at Akpakpava fired gunshots to dispel the protesters.
As at the time of filing this report, three persons are feared dead as a result of the shooting at the CBN in Benin.
More details later.