Queue at the ATM

01.02.2023 Featured REVEALED: Bank Managers Selling New Naira Notes to Politicians in Lagos

Published 1st Feb, 2023

By Segun Ige

At Lagos banks, customers are deprived of withdrawing cash, either via the Automated Teller Machines (ATMs) or over the counters. Each of the seven banks visited by FIJ on Tuesday expressed rather similar concerns about the scarcity of the new naira notes.

Bank customers who had deposited all the soon-to-expire notes were pained and saddened, as they were starved of cash. Point of Sale (PoS) machine operators, who could have been a succour to Lagos residents or passersby in need of urgent cash, were also helpless.


It’s shocking that certain bank managers who are supposed to have the back of the masses are the ones selling the new notes.

This was the revelation of a bank staff member, who asked not to be named, at one of the banks visited. “At least if a politician is demanding a N5 million, you could still give him N3 million naira,” he said, condemning the high rate of hoarding going on in banks.

“The CBN arrested some of them last week Friday. That’s why you see that most banks are running dry of the new naira notes. Don’t be surprised that all through this week, it will be very difficult for the ordinary citizen to have access to their money.

“And you know what, this cashless policy of a thing is going to affect most of the masses. It’s obviously a way for them (the politicians) to start preparing for the elections. I hope you understand.”

Lagos residents go through a lot of stress as bank managers and politicians trade the new naira notes. This was gathered after FIJ visited five commercial banks in Ojota – Access, First, Stanbic IBTC, Sterling, and UBA Bank – in the Kosofe area of Lagos.

A Point of Sale (PoS) operator crowded with Access Bank customers. He is not attending to the customers, even though they are willing to pay any extra charges

As though expecting a different narrative, FIJ also visited two commercial banks in Alausa, Ikeja – Polaris and GTB – the seat of power in Lagos.

At Access Bank, one of the customers, who had deposited a sum of N300,000 last week Friday, complained bitterly that she couldn’t make any withdrawal both from the ATM and directly from the cashiers in the bank.

“I deposited N300,000 last week Friday,” she said, almost crying. “But look at me, I can’t even withdraw, both the old and new notes.”

Another customer from the same bank shared the same plight, but quite differently.

She said she could not make a cash withdrawal from the ATM, adding that “the cashiers inside are only giving lower denominations of N50 and N100”.

What was most striking, however, was that even on the deputy governor’s office premises in Ikeja, the two banks, Polaris and GTBank, were not dispensing both the new and old naira notes.


A Stanbic IBTC bank cashier said bluntly that I could not withdraw more than N1,500.

“The bank does not have the new notes yet. You can only be given a sum of N1,500. But if you go to the ATM,” he said.

I told him, “But there is no cash in the ATM, both the old and the new notes.”

“I’m sorry,” he said, “but that’s the present policy we’re working by.”

Also sharing a similar view were a Sterling Bank female cashier, a First Bank male cashier and a UBA male cashier.

“We can’t pay out the old notes. We only had N100 for withdrawal last week but it’s now finished,” the Sterling cashier told me.

“The extension is to receive old notes, not to give out new notes. We do not have any notes you can presently withdraw. Please, bear with us,” the First Bank cashier said.

Asked whether the 10-day extension deadline was strictly for cash deposit, he said, “Yes, the extension was to deposit the old notes, but at the moment, we do not have any notes for cash withdrawal, whether at the counter or at the ATM.”

“We are not dispensing cash. There is no money.”


What was most striking, however, was that even on the Deputy Governor of Lagos State, Obafemi Hamzat’s premises in Ikeja, the two banks, Polaris and GTB, were short of the new naira notes.

An angry man, who had just left the Polaris Bank, shouted that “they are just selling the money”. I asked him, “But who are those buying the money?” He said, “The government of course.”

Asked whether he was able to withdraw over the counter, another Polaris Bank customer, who had just come out of the banking hall, said, “I wanted to withdraw N10,000. The cashier told me to come back.”

However, when FIJ entered the bank to carry the same withdrawal transaction, the cashier said, “There’s no money here, too. We have exhausted it. You can speak with the manager.”

Some of them, queueing endlessly, told me they had been on the ground as early as 5am.

This particular bank manager FIJ spoke with responded dismissively that “there’s nothing she could do about it. There is no cash; there’s no cash.” She, however, failed to respond when asked whether she had the knowledge some bank managers were selling the new notes to politicians.

Published 1st Feb, 2023

By Segun Ige


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