Nigerians across the country besieged commercial banks on Friday to make last minute cash withdrawals ahead of today’s presidential and parliamentary elections.
In Port Harcourt, Rivers State capital, residents flooded Automated Teller Machine points across the city to make withdrawals.
As a result of the cash rush, many ATMs in some banks visited by one of our correspondents in places like Harbour Road, Aba Road and Artillery areas of the city ran out of cash, leaving scores of customers deeply frustrated.
Even some customers who attempted to transfer money to their loved ones were left disappointed as their transactions failed even as their accounts were debited. Some affected customers were lucky to have their money returned to their accounts before leaving the ATM points while others were assured by security officers in some of the places that their accounts would be credited in not more than 24 hours.
Long queues were also noticed at ATMs and banking halls in Makurdi, Benue State.
Saturday PUNCH learnt that the rush was a precautionary measure by residents who feared that there might be post- election violence which could affect economic activities in the country.
Heavy human and vehicular traffic was also noticed on most of the roads in the city, especially routes leading to major markets.
Heightened buying of food items and other basic needs was witnessed as residents made final rush to stock their homes.
Saturday PUNCH also observed that the Jos-Makurdi-Otukpo-Enugu highway was very busy as commuters and motorists who reportedly left states like Kano, Kaduna, Bauchi, Plateau and Katsina over fear of post-election violence in the North headed down south.
In Jos, Plateau State capital, traffic was unusually heavy as residents also made last minute purchases in readiness for today’s presidential and parliamentary elections.
There was heavy traffic build up around the city centre, especially at Ahmadu Bello Way, Rwang Pam Street and adjoining streets.
The same situation was noticed at the popular Farin Gada and Gada Biu markets. The price of goods was markedly high as traders exploited the situation.
A basket of tomatoes that normally goes for N450 was sold for between N1,000 and N1,500. The same goes for other food items.
A trader, who identified herself as Rose told our correspondent that buyers started trooping into the market where she trades as early as 8am.
In Ekiti State, the situation was similar. One of our correspondents who went to commercial banks along Adebayo, New Iyin and Ola Governor’s Road in Ado-Ekiti observed long queues at the banks’ ATMs.
The majority of those who were in the banking halls showed impatience in their bid to end transactions and leave.
Some of the ATMs did not dispense cash and the situation prompted the customers to try other banks.
A customer, Mrs. Felicia Adeleye, who spoke with Saturday PUNCH in one of the banks located on Bank Road, Ado-Ekiti, said she was unable to withdraw money despite arriving the bank hours earlier.
Adeleye said, “I first joined a queue to use the ATM but got frustrated when the three machines did not work. I later went into the bank but I was told there was a network problem. I intend to get some money to spend on my family upkeep during the elections.”