Indications have emerged that most banks in the country are struggling to meet up with cash obligation to customers due to shortage of cash as policemen remain reluctant to resume escort service to banks.
The only police personnel on active duty as of yet are those who work in the various police divisions and command headquarters.
Investigations revealed that customers have resorted to patronising mini-banks or Point of Sale (POS) terminals despite high costs of withdrawals and deposits.
At many Automated Teller Machine (ATM) centres visited in Lagos during the week, only a few of the machines were dispensing cash to very large crowds of bank customers.
A bank customer, Orgar Simone, said at a mini-bank where he was able to withdraw N7,000 at the charge of N300, one of the other people standing by to make withdrawal described the N300 service charge as nothing since banks were unable to provide enough cash.
Simone said: “He told me of another instance where someone was charged a whopping N1,000 for withdrawing N10,000. This probably took place during the #EndSARS protest when there was curfew and many businesses were closed.
“Just a few days ago, I attempted to withdraw N7,000 using one of these mini-banks. On getting to the mini-bank, I was told that I would be charged N300 for withdrawing N7,000. I felt that this charge was too much, compared to the current N35 charge (and even the hitherto N65 charge) placed on the fourth and subsequent withdrawals made in a month, from an Automated Teller Machine (ATM) not belonging to your bank, and the no-charge for withdrawals made using your bank’s ATMs. I, therefore, bargained for a N200 charge but the mini-bank attendant refused.”
Another bank customer, Jide Fatai, wondered how difficult things would have been if the situation was worse than a protest. He said: “I hate war but an ordinary protest happened in Nigeria and someone cannot use the ATM to get cash. At all the banks in Apapa, no single ATM was dispensing cash.”
The newly introduced minibank services range from cash transfers and cash withdrawal to cash deposit and Point of Sale (POS).
A top bank executive who spoke to Saturday Tribune on condition of anonymity said banks were trying to cope with what they had since after the EndSARS protest as security agents had not been providing services “and it is risky to move money without security.”
Some bank customers told Saturday Tribune on Friday that they discovered that most banks were only rendering services that didn’t include cash withdrawal because there was shortage of cash.
An online news agency quoted a customer of a popular commercial bank in Awka, Mr Ejike Uzondu, as saying: “I came to withdraw N350,000, but the manager said I should reduce the amount to accommodate other customers, saying that they didn’t have enough cash.
“I was surprised when, after filling the teller, the bank staff wasted a lot of time before coming to me. She later took me to the bank manager who now started appealing to me that they had shortage of cash.
“He told me they had money but could not move it to the branch because the police who normally escort their vans had not resumed operation. He said they could not risk moving money from one location to another without security personnel because anything could happen.”
It was gathered that in most banks, customers who wanted to withdraw large sums of money were made to wait for a long time while customers coming in to make deposits were attended to just to get enough cash to pay customers.