- Violent protests in Ogun, Ondo banks shut, protesters block Benin-Ore highway
BY TIMOTHY AGBOR, OSOGBO
A violent protest erupted in Abeokuta, the Ogun State capital, on Tuesday, as angry youth took to the streets, destroying public facilities in protest against the scarcity of the new naira notes and fuel.
The youth went on a rampage vandalizing political posters and billboards and blocking roads with bonfires.
The protest was ignited at a branch of Guaranty Trust Bank (GTBank) in Asero area of Abeokuta where customers had queued since 4 a.m. but could not withdraw cash.
The protesters attempted to attack the GTBank but they were stopped by the prompt intervention of the police.
The protests, however, spread to other parts of the metropolis, including Sapon, Ibara, Panseke, and Adatan.
Schools were promptly shut while traders hurriedly closed their shops to avoid being caught up in the protests.
The protests took a turn for the worse in the Sapon area of the Ogun State capital as the protesters attacked a branch of First Bank in the area, while the bank’s Automated Teller Machine was also vandalised.
In order to avoid being attacked, taxi drivers and okada riders had to show solidarity by attaching leaves to their vehicles.
While parents rushed to schools to bring home their wards at noon, relatives also called their loved ones on phone, asking them to stay safe and avoid being victims of the ongoing violent protest.
“We can’t withdraw our money, we can’t buy fuel, we see long queues everywhere. There is no water, there is no light, yet these people are out there campaigning. What type of a nation is this? We must stop this nonsense,” one of the protesters said in a video.
Speaking on the incident, the Ogun State Police Public Relations Officer, Abimbola Oyeyemi, said police operatives were monitoring the situation.
Oyeyemi warned the protesters against causing more hardship for Nigerians, especially by vandalising other people’s properties.
He expressed concerns that some of those leading the uprising do not have money to withdraw from their accounts.
“We have talked to them so that they won’t turn the protest into destruction of properties. Anybody who tries to destroy any property will be decisively dealt with. We have warned them.
“They are protesting that they can’t withdraw money and there is fuel scarcity. The funny thing is that those who don’t have N5 in their accounts are demonstrating that they can’t withdraw. This is uncalled for. We all have to be calm,” the police spokesperson said.
Also, some commercial banks in Akure, the Ondo State capital and some other towns of the state did not operate on Tuesday following protest staged by some aggrieved citizens in the state over naira and fuel scarcity.
The affected banks were said to have been ordered not to operate after a security report informed their management that there was a plan to attack the banks.
Hundreds of residents of the state on Tuesday stormed the Benin-Ore-Sagamu Expressway at Ore in Odigbo Local Government Area of the state, to protest against the scarcity ravaging the country.
The expressway was barricaded for several hours, by the protesters who were singing various solidarity songs and caused traffic snarls in the area.
The state Commissioner of Police, Oyeyemi Oyediran, had earlier met with stakeholders in the state to address the issues of scarcity and inability to access cash at financial institutions and also the hike in fuel price at various filling stations.
The Commissioner of Police had also warned against staging protests in the state.
But, the residents shunned the warning and embarked on the peaceful demonstration.
One of the protesters, Adeyemi Adebayo explained that the protest became imperative in order to checkmate lackadaisical attitudes of the government towards the wellbeing of the suffering masses.
Adebayo stated that the crisis on the new naira policy by the Federal Government had been on for three weeks now which has resulted in many aged long queues at the banks nationwide, and the government was not doing anything about it.
He said the protest was peaceful and that it was not aimed at destroying properties or to take life but to express annoyance of the masses to the government.
The community leaders in Ore said common Nigerians are suffering, adding that they could no longer withdraw from the banks or even get Premium Motor Spirit, popularly called petrol at the normal rate.
According to him, masses now pay heavily to Point of Sales operators before they could withdraw money, adding that many sleep overnight in banks due to naira scarcity.
He said members of Independent Petroleum Marketers Association of Nigeria now sell the product between N400 and N700 and called on the government to act fast before the people “are pushed to the wall.”