Protest in Edo: Obaseki holds closed-door meeting with security chiefs

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The Governor of Edo state, Mr Godwin Obaseki, has called for calm from residents of Edo State over the violent protest in Benin city occasioned by the scarcity of naira.

Consequently, security operatives have been deployed to protect banking assets in the state to ensure citizens' cash disbursement.

Governor Obaseki made the call while addressing journalists at the Government House in Benin City, on Wednesday, after a closed-door meeting with heads of security agencies in the state.

He expressed displeasure over the protests in Benin City, adding that the state government will do its best to ensure that residents can withdraw their cash from the banks in the state.

He noted, "We just concluded our security council meeting over the incident that took place in our city today. It's something we are concerned about and very sad about. It is just a culmination of the pains and sufferings expressed by our citizens.

"As a government, we tried to do as much as we could have to make sure that citizens are able to draw cash deposited in their accounts, and unfortunately, that has not happened the way we expected, and it has led to some agitations and concerns by people in the city.

"From what happened today, we can tell clearly that the people who undertook the damages of banks and banking assets were not depositors as many of them were area boys. We met and resolved to restore security to the state and the banking institutions. Security men have been deployed and will remain in banking premises to keep calm."

The governor added, "We are putting pressure on the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) authorities to do what they should do to release cash to citizens and have requested for security to do so. The plan is that from tomorrow morning, security men will give support for the disbursement of cash through POS operators in our markets, and as soon as they can restore safety and sanity to the banks, then the bank will open to disburse cash to citizens.

"We want all citizens to be vigilant to make sure the situation is not hijacked so that things will not go out of control. We feel the pain of our people, and as a government, we will continue to do everything we can to reduce the pain our people are going through.

Protest in Benin City on Wednesday, 15 February, one dead

As Nigeria is thrown into turmoil due to the shortage of the new naira note, anger spilt among youths on Wednesday, 15 February, in Benin City, Edo State, South Nigeria.

Destruction of building in Benin today after protesters demand for new naira notes
Destruction of building in Benin today after protesters demand new naira notes

The city was in severe pandemonium following the violent protest that erupted in the early hours of Wednesday.

As early as 6 am, some persons besieged most of the banks in Benin City to withdraw money via the Automated Machine (ATM).

More trouble started after the commercial Bank rejected the old naira notes from its customers, urging them to exchange them directly from the Central Bank of Nigeria.

After an effort to withdraw money from the ATM failed, customers lost their tempers and destroyed the machine.

Other disappointed customers attack the banking facilities, leading to the destruction of properties running into millions.

The security agents attached to the Central Bank of Nigeria in Benin city were helpless as hundreds of angry protesters entered the Bank.

Canisters and live gun bullets were fired freely along Akpakpava road in Benin city while one person was confirmed dead.

The situation made many banks in Benin city shut down hurriedly.

The Edo state Police Public Relations Officer, SP Chidi Nwabuzor, could not confirm the exact figure of persons who died during the protest.

He, however, promised to get back to reporters for more details.

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