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Naira Notes

Some commercial banks and filling stations have stopped collecting the old naira notes from customers, contrary to the ruling of the Supreme Court restraining the Federal Government from enforcing the February 10 time limit earlier fixed by the apex bank for the currency swap.

Findings by The PUNCH on Monday indicated that the banks refused to accept the old N1,000, N500 and N200 notes from depositors and point-of-service agents who flooded the bank to lodge their cash.

Point of service operators and other bank customers whose old naira notes were rejected, panicked as bank officials, who said they were acting on the Central Bank of Nigeria’s directive, remained adamant.

Also, lawyers and litigants at high courts in Lagos State were unable to file their court processes using the old naira notes for payment.

As the naira crisis worsened, the CBN Governor, Godwin Emefiele, again met with the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), at the Presidential Villa on Monday.

Emefiele, who had met with the President about six times since the naira crisis started, failed to address correspondents as he reportedly left the villa through a side entrance.

The governments of Kaduna, Kogi and Zamfara states on February 8 secured the order of the apex court extending the deadline beyond last Friday stipulated by the CBN for the use of the old notes.

A seven-member panel of the apex court, led by Justice John Okoro directed that the deadline be suspended till Wednesday when the proceedings would continue even as other states had applied to join the suit.

But our correspondent who visited the Mobil filling station at First Gate bus stop along Lagos-Badagry Expressway observed that the attendants refused to accept the old naira notes on Monday.

Checks also showed that banks in the Ikeja area of Lagos State refused to collect the old notes from customers.

Some frustrated and desperate customers were seen making frantic calls to their friends and loved ones intimating them of the development.

Speaking to The PUNCH on condition of anonymity because he was not authorised to speak on the latest development, a staff member of First Bank Plc said that they were instructed not to collect the old naira notes.

Our correspondent noticed that only customers who had new naira notes were allowed into the banking hall.

Also in the Badagry area of Lagos, several bank customers and PoS agents who visited banks on Monday were shocked to learn that the banks were not accepting the old notes.

A resident, who identified himself simply as Mr Julius said the branches of Access Bank and UBA in the town refused to accept the old currencies from depositors.

Speaking to our correspondent on the phone, he said, “What is happening in his country? My wife visited UBA only to be informed that the bank was no longer accepting the old notes. Some PoS agents who visited Access Bank were also informed that the bank was no longer accepting the old notes based on a directive from the CBN. I thought the Supreme Court ruled that the notes are still legal tender.’’

Ogun banks

A Sterling Bank official said banks in the Magboro area of Ogun State had shut down as a result of the scarcity of cash.

Findings also indicate that some banks in Abuja, the capital city, have stopped accepting the old notes.

Officials who spoke to our correspondent said the policy was in line with a directive from the apex bank, noting that they did not know anything about the Supreme Court order.

At a Zenith bank branch located in the Central Business District, customers who had the old notes could not deposit them as officials blatantly refused to accept them.

A bank official stated, “We are not collecting old notes again, the deadline was on Friday. The memo I saw yesterday (Sunday) directed that we should not collect N1,000 and N500 old notes anymore.

“We even had to dispatch all our old currency on Friday to the Central Bank. We obey our regulators, not the Supreme Court.”

 At the GtBank close to the Ministry of Transport, our correspondent got the same response.

“We are no longer receiving the old notes, we are working with the CBN and anything they say is what we do,’’ a female cashier declared.

 When reminded about the seven-day grace period announced by the CBN governor, she noted, “We don’t know anything about it, the deadline has elapsed, and we are working with the CBN.”

However, a UBA branch at the CBD, Abuja, allowed some customers to deposit their old notes.

A customer confessed that he had to call a senior official before he was allowed to deposit his old naira notes.

But the GTB and First Bank branches in the Jabi district flatly refused to accept the old notes.

The same situation was observed in Ado Ekiti, the Ekiti State capital as many residents were frustrated by the banks and filling stations which refused to collect the old notes.

Ironically, some filling stations also rejected cash transfers even though they did not provide PoS as they insisted on the new notes.

A bank customer, Tope Adeitan, said, “It was a hell of a day for me today. I was at a bank along Bank Road to make withdrawals, but I was told I could only withdraw N5,000 across the counter, which I did because I had no option. I could not say whether the bank was collecting old notes or not, but I did not see a single note of the old N200, N500 and N1000 with anybody throughout my stay in the bank.

“And at a petrol station, I had thought I would use my ATM card or my bank app to pay for fuel only to be told I would have to pay with the new notes. So, I had to use the money I collected from the bank. The petrol dealers are just interested in selling the new naira notes to PoS operators for a quick profit. I am confused, will I have to cough out N150 or N200 on every N1,000 I collect through PoS?”

Another bank customer, who identified herself simply as Ayomide, said she had gone to a bank branch in the Okeyinmi area to make a withdrawal but was surprised by the sea of people at the ATM points and under the makeshift tents who wanted to carry out transactions in the bank, adding, “I had to return home empty-handed.

Customers lament

Some people said that the bank and some others in the state capital rejected their old notes. So, I can tell you the banks are not accepting the old notes. The Federal Government needs to speak to Nigerians on this issue. This suffering is unbearable,” she said.

In Kwara State, checks by our correspondent revealed that several banks, including UBA, FCMB and Access bank refused to take the old notes from their customers on Monday while the Zenith Bank, First Bank and UBA at Unity Road did not load money into their ATM points.

But the Fidelity bank Keystone on Ibrahim Taiwo road, GTB, Unity road and Polaris on Murtala Mohammed road were besieged by anxious customers.

A customer, Abiola Adegoke who said he was at the Murtala Mohammed road branch of FCMB to lodge his company money said that the bank officials told him that there was an instruction from their head office that they should not receive the old naira notes from the customers.

Another customer, Mr Owolabi Azeez, explained that UBA rejected the old notes he wanted to deposit in his account.

Angry customers in Ondo State lamented the refusal of the banks to accept the old notes.

It was also observed that traders, petrol stations and supermarkets were also rejecting the old notes on the grounds that the banks were no longer collecting them.

But some filling stations and supermarkets accepted PoS and electronic cash transfers during transactions.

A businessman, Mr Raphael Sunday, noted, “I went to my bank this (Monday) morning to deposit N55,000 old notes but it was rejected as the cashier told me that they didn’t collect old notes for now. I felt bad because there is nowhere I can take the money.The government should do something about this problem.”

However, a banker said they were not to blame for the situation, adding, “We are waiting for the directive from the CBN. If the CBN gives us a go-ahead, we would start receiving the old notes from the customers.”

Residents of Yola, Adamawa State, also complained that the banks had stopped accepting the old notes.

The development came on the heels of the circulation of defaced and mutilated naira notes.

Speaking on condition of anonymity, a CBN official said the notes issued by the CBN, though defaced and mutilated, were re-issued to cushion the scarcity of naira notes in the state.

He said, “To cushion the scarcity of naira notes, the CBN in Yola resorted to issuing to banks in the state damaged and defaced N50 denomination sourced from its dump vault where the notes have been designated for destruction.”

A PoS operator, Nguliaro Nicholas, said nearly 90 per cent of the currency in circulation in the state were mutilated N50 and N20 notes.

A UBA official revealed that the bank was collecting old notes earlier in the day but it received a directive from its headquarters to stop.

CBN keeps mum

She said, “The CBN is quiet so we don’t know what we are into, so the measure from our bank is to reduce risk because the CBN has been quiet.”

A resident, Bamaiyi Yusuf, who travelled over 80km from Mayo-inne in the Fufore Local Government Area to the state capital to deposit N200,000 at the CBN because his bank (GTB) refused to collect the old naira notes, was close to tears when he was directed to return on Tuesday (today).

The CBN branch controller, Sanusi Sah, dismissed allegations that the issuance of the old notes by the banks in the state was meant to perpetrate fraud.

He also indicated the readiness of the bank to commence the naira swap based on official mail received from its head office.

Explaining why the filling stations were rejecting the old naira notes, the Secretary, the Independent Petroleum Marketers Association of Nigeria, Abuja-Suleja branch, Mohammed Shuaibu, said the banks were to blame for the development.

He stated that the banks had remained adamant, attributing this to the confusion caused by the CBN.

“The banks are still adamant. They said the CBN has not given them a directive on what to do. Before now, they said the CBN gave them a circular asking them not to collect the old notes from February 10, 2023,” he stated.

Shuaibu added, “But based on the Supreme Court judgment and the Council of State meeting, the CBN, as it is now, has not given the banks any other circular on whether to continue collecting the old notes or not.

“So this is creating confusion and people are afraid, because if you go to the banks, they won’t collect it from you, and if you collect the notes from the public, the banks will be adamant.”

It was, however, observed that most filling stations in the Federal Capital Territory had started using the Point of Sale machines, in accordance with the directive of the Federal Government.

Last week, the Federal Government through its Nigerian Midstream and Downstream Petroleum Regulatory Authority, ordered filling stations to accept PoS transactions as well as bank transfers from customers in order to ameliorate the effect of the cash crunch in Nigeria.

Reacting to the situation, the Association of Mobile Money and Bank Agents in Nigeria insisted that the banks must accept the old notes.

The National President, of the Association of Mobile Money and Bank Agents in Nigeria, Victor Olojo, who was indignant over the banks’ action asked the CBN to compel them to receive the old notes.

He said, “We are calling on the CBN to be more circumspect and they should also observe. They are dealing with Nigerians, we are in our country; we are not third-class citizens. The reality of the matter is that the currency swap has not been effective, it has not yielded any result. So if banks decide to say they are not collecting, it further affects the citizens.’’

Olojo cited the directive of the Kano State Government compelling banks in the state to continue to accept the old currencies.

He added, “The CBN should intervene and call on the bank to do the needful. You are aware that in Kano state and other places, commercial banks are compelled by the state government to work.

“In fact, small businesses that don’t collect old notes are being sanctioned by the state government. So the reality is that the cash swap is not effective, any further action by the CBN will affect the citizens. We are calling on the CBN to compel the banks to do the needful until we see meaningful results except we want are deceiving ourselves.

“We are not anywhere close to a successful cash swap programme in this country. Go to the market today, a lot of the old notes are still in circulation because there are no new notes to exchange for them.”

Elderly man weeps

Meanwhile, a  video of an elderly man weeping inside the banking hall of one of the commercial banks on Monday surfaced on social media platforms.

The elderly man who spoke in the Yoruba language said he needed to access cash in order to buy drugs.

“All I want is money to buy my drugs and also get food to eat. The person that sells drugs for me said I must bring cash, and I have money in the bank but can’t access it,” he said while weeping in the footage posted on The

Efforts to get a response from the CBN through its Director of Corporate Communications, Osita Nwanisobi, were futile. When contacted by our correspondent on Monday through a phone call, he asked our correspondent to text him instead. However, he never acknowledged nor responded to the text.

 Meanwhile, the CBN has said that over N2tn old notes had been deposited by bank customers since it began the cash swap programme.

According to a CBN document obtained by our correspondent, the N1,000 note was the most counterfeited denomination in five years.

It also revealed that the circulation of fake N1,000 rose from 58.45 per cent to 78.5 per cent between 2017 to 2021 making it the most forged note in the country.

The document obtained from the CBN showed that fake notes maintained an upward trend with 58.45 per cent in 2017, 65.29 per cent in 2018, 69.06 per cent in 2020, and 78.50 per cent in 2021, with a reduction of 52.48 per cent in 2019.

Also, the N500 and N200 were the second and third-highest forged notes, respectively.

The PUNCH recalls that one of the reasons listed for the naira redesign was the increasing ease and risk of counterfeiting evidenced by several security reports.

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African Development Bank (AfDB) said it invested about US$ 5.2 billion in supporting and strengthening water and sanitation resilience for almost 97 million Africans in 10 years.

A statement issued on AfDB’s website said the bank, since 2015, had invested an average of US$ 900 million yearly to support water and sanitation.

It said, “massive investments in integrated water development and management are central to achieving sustainable water, food and energy security while assuring green and inclusive growth.

“In 2022, our water and sanitation portfolio of US$ 473 million provided water access to an estimated 6.8 million people and jobs to over 24,000 people in Africa,’’ it said.

Why we’re empowering 2.5m SMEs in Africa —Stride ERP

The statement said within AfDB’s High five strategic priorities; water security underpinned food and energy security, industrialisation, regional integration and improved African quality of life.

It said AfDB’s Water Policy was built on a vision to improve Africa’s water security and transform water assets to foster sustainable, green and inclusive socio-economic growth and development.

According to the statement, water is an essential resource with direct impact on Africa’s economic potential, and inadequate access to safe water, sanitation, and hygiene services reduces economic opportunities.

It said one in three Africans were affected by water scarcity.

It quoted the 2022 WHO/UNICEF JMP report as saying 411 million people in Africa lack basic drinking water services.

The statement further said that 779 million people lacked basic sanitation services, and 839 million lacked basic hygiene.

It said climate change causes water scarcity and drought, leading to projected water scarcity for close to 230 million Africans.

“And as many as 460 million Africans will live in areas where water demand periodically exceeds the available supply by 2025.

“This also impacts food and energy security as the continent’s population grows. Water access remains a matter of concern, and efficiency in water use is now a crucial issue,” it said.

According to the statement, the theme of World Water Day 2023, ‘Accelerating change’, is a wake-up call to do even more to solve water and sanitation crises.

 It said: “We need collective and urgent action by governments, regional associations, and global development partners.

“We must also consider the complex interplay between water and energy supply and demand, food ecosystems.

“And the impacts of climate change to address the diverse needs and use of water, develop innovative ideas, and optimise finance in the water sector.”

It said towards 2030 and beyond, AfDB would continue to work with and support African countries to drive the achievement of Sustainable Development Goal six targets.

“It will do this through financing, sector reforms and governance, knowledge generation, partnerships and private sector engagement, environmental and social responsibility, and mitigating the impacts of climate change,” it said. (NAN)

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Crowd yet to thin at a bank’s ATM gallery after the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) declared old naira notes legal tender …. yesterday. PHOTO: AYODELE ADENIRAN

• Business owners, traders defy CBN, reject old N500, N1,000

• CBN silent on returned banknotes, warehoused cash

• Residual notes amount to drop in ocean, analysts insist

• NIBSS: ePayment recorded series of failed transactions in February

• HURIWA charges CBN to disburse old, new notes to banks

The silence of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) on the trillions of naira it mopped from the financial system continues to cast doubt on the possibility of achieving sufficient naira circulation in the near term, after Monday night’s directive urging banks to comply with the Supreme Court ruling extending the validity of the old banknotes to December 31, 2023.

The statement came days after some banks had started issuing the old notes in their vaults. Some of the banks, The Guardian learnt had exhausted the residual notes in their possession before the CBN directive – a reason majority have none to give as at yesterday when the regulatory directive took effect.

Insider sources disclosed that some bank chiefs used the Supreme Court ruling to release the ‘stranded’ cash in their possession, while they rejected deposits of same old notes.

The Guardian was informed that bank chiefs were already worried about what to do with the notes they collected at the height of the crisis without a clear directive from the regulator.

“The issue was that some banks collected some deposits in old notes at the time CBN was not forthcoming with clear instructions on the proceeds. The court ruling provided an opportunity to dispose of the cash,” the source said.

The Guardian had, after the Supreme Court judgment, reported that CBN was still in possession of a reasonable volume of the old notes but would require sufficient time to sort it for distribution for onward re-issuance.

Apart from a viral and uncomfirmed YouTube video of supposed shred bags of naira, there is no official validation that a part or the entire volume sucked from the system had been destroyed.

The latest official statement of the apex bank on the issue vaguely said the old notes remained legal tenders alongside the new series. There was nothing in the statement that indicated how the bank intends to plug the hole to bring the situation to normalcy.

The CBN spokesperson, Dr. Isa Abdulmumin, was not forthcoming on the returned old notes and whether they would be re-issued in the meantime, as calls and messages were not attended to at press time.

Commercial banks, who have also been jolted by the recent bank failure in the United States, are mindful of a possible run on the banks as soon as substantial cash flows into the system. The lenders, it was learnt, are simulating different levels of scenarios of cash calls and strategising on how they could be prevented.

David Adonri, an economist and stockbroker, said the fear of bank run is real and that the only way it could be prevented is by issuing cash in excess of N3.2 trillion, the volume of currency in circulation before the naira redesign programme commenced.

“The way it is, whatever CBN issues going forward would amount to pouring water into a basket. People have suffered much, and they would go on a withdrawing spree, not to spend but to store in their houses. That would further hurt the circulation of whatever amount the banks give out,” Adonri noted.

A financial inclusion/wealth management expert, CEO of SD&D Capital Management Limited, Idakolo Gabriel Gbolade, said the naira crisis should not have reached an unbearable height before government’s intervention, adding that it is unthinkable for a democratically-elected government to watch its citizens suffer for months.

He explained that the scar of the crisis would be felt in the economy for a long time. “The state of the economy is worsening and is compounded by the delayed intervention towards implementing the Supreme Court’s ruling. The scarcity of new notes shouldn’t have reached an unbearable height before President Buhari and CBN’s response,” he stated.

DATA obtained from the Nigeria Inter-Bank Settlement System (NIBSS) indicates that the usage of e-payment gateways recorded a 41.29 per cent month-on-month increase. Cashless payment gateways were used 901.46 million times in February, up from 638 million in January.

Despite an increase in usage, the total value of cashless transactions fell in February, indicating that the number of failed transactions increased due to poor network infrastructure.

This is contrary to the expectation that the naira redesign policy will increase electronic transactions in the country.

Since 2020, NIBSS has not updated its efficiency platform portal, which displays the number of failed transitions and other data, making it difficult to report the number of failed transactions. As the major payment switch in the country, NIBSS records cashless transactions from the Nigeria Instant Payment System and Point of Sales terminals. In February, the total NIP (instant payments) fell to N36.79 trillion from N38.772 trillion in January.

Despite the scarcity of naira witnessed in February, data from NIBSS revealed that the value of PoS transactions grew from N807.16 billion in January to N883.45 billion in February.

Usage of mobile transfers, which serve as the primary payment gateway for many Nigerians, soared by 69.87 per cent from 108.14 million times in January to 183.69 million times in February.

While usage grew drastically, transaction value only grew marginally by 7.88 per cent from N2.37 trillion in January to N2.56 trillion in February. This mirrored the experience of many Nigerians in the month, who had to grapple with multiple failed mobile transactions.

MEANWHILE, it’s a slow compliance on the streets as business owners, traders and transporters in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), yesterday, defied CBN’s directive hours after the apex bank’s announcement.

It was gathered that residents of Abuja were still rejecting the old notes. Salisu Mohammed, a trader in the UTC Area market, confirmed that he rejected the old notes.

“No one is collecting the old N500 and N1,000 notes as I speak to you. If other traders do not collect the money, do you expect me to do so? I have rejected some customers today who came buying with old currencies,” he said.

Okechukwu Okereke, a taxi driver, said he is yet to come to terms with CBN’s announcement on acceptance of the old notes.

“As for me, I am not receiving the money. I heard depositing it at the bank is difficult, so what is the need? Only customers who have the new notes will board my vehicle,” he said.

Commercial banks in Utako, Jabi, Wuse and Abuja city centres were crowded with customers, as has been the case since the beginning of the naira crisis two months ago.

Prof Godwin Oyedokun, a lecturer of Accounting and Management at Leads University Ibadan, said Nigerians’ compliance with CBN’s decision might take some time, while Dr Muda Yusuf, Director, Centre for the Promotion of Private Enterprise (CPPE), urged the apex bank to embark on massive awareness campaign on its latest directive.

RESIDENTS of Ilorin, Kwara State capital, reacted variously to Monday’s directive of the CBN. While majority described the directive as a good development, others said it will only impact positively if vigorous sensitisation and public enlightenment campaigns are carried out by CBN to restore confidence of the people who have been traumatised by the naira crisis.

Musa Ayinla, a lawyer, said the situation will improve if banks dispense enough old notes to cushion the effects of the hardship Nigerians have gone through over the naira scarcity. He further complained that Point of Sale (PoS) operators are not helping the situation with exorbitant charges they impose on cash withdrawals.

A retired civil servant, Shola Adeshina, who also described the announcement as a positive development, urged banks to make the old notes available if there are not enough new notes for circulation. He particularly sympathised with people in rural areas where there are no banking services, wondering about the negative effect of the crisis on rural economy.

In Ebonyi State, despite CBN’s directive, residents and business operators have refused to collect the old notes.

Check by The Guardian showed that apart from the difficulties in accessing both new and old notes, PoS agents were exchanging N1000 for either N1400 or N1500.

Traders in Makurdi and other parts of Benue State were still wary of accepting the old notes yesterday. At the Gboko rice mill, traders avoided the old notes like a pariah.

When The Guardian went round banks in Makurdi, crowd of desperate people laid siege to the gates of the banks.

THERE was relief in Rivers State as banks commenced across the counter payment of old notes to customers. Different branches of various banks were seen paying old notes to customers willing to accept them.

However, disbursement was still being rationed according to the discretion of officials of the various banks. None of the banks was paying the new notes along with the old.

At the Mile 1, Diobu, Port Harcourt area, a first generation bank was paying a maximum of N20,000 to each customer, while another bank paid maximum of N5,000. Others refused to disclose their limits, only offering to say that they were paying the old notes.

It was discovered that no Automatic Teller Machines (ATMs) of any of the banks was dispensing cash. This now diverted the crowd that usually gather at the ATM points into the banking halls.

Civil rights advocacy group, Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria (HURIWA), has slammed CBN over its tardiness and insensitivity to the plight of millions of Nigerians, whose lives have been strangulated economically in the last three months due to the naira redesign policy.

HURIWA, in a statement by its National Coordinator, Comrade Emmanuel Onwubiko, said beyond CBN’s reluctant compliance notice with the Supreme Court order of March 3, Emefiele should immediately release old and new naira notes into circulation to ease the suffering of ordinary Nigerians, especially those in the informal sector and in rural areas, who have no idea of digital banking.

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The disparity in the pump price of Premium Motor Spirit, popularly called petrol, is to further widen due to the incomplete delivery of products to many filling stations, oil marketers stated on Tuesday.

Dealers under the aegis of the Independent Petroleum Marketers Association of Nigeria, said there had been a lopsided pattern in the distribution of PMS lately, stressing that this would cause scarcity and worsen the price disparity in retail outlets.

They told our correspondent that the Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited, through its NNPC Retail subsidiary, had not been delivering the exact number of trucks of fuel that were meant for independent marketers.

“Here in Port Harcourt, for instance, we have Oando and NNPC Retail, and they have products in some private depots. Master Energy and Liquid Bulk also have products, but there is no volume for independent marketers,” the National Public Relations Officer, IPMAN, Chief Ukadike Chinedu, stated.

He added, “Independent marketers have no volume in all these depots and we have over 3,400 tickets lying and waiting at the NNPC Retail account. This new system is now making independent marketers beg for petroleum products from NNPC Retail.

“It is until NNPC Retail has finished loading products to its own outlets before it would now attend to independent marketers. It has made the independent marketers the third tier in terms of the bulk distribution of petroleum products, which is very incorrect.”

Independent marketers operate about 80 per cent of filling stations nationwide, both in villages and other remote areas, making them the largest downstream distributors of petrol.

Ukadike explained that the recent lopsidedness in products distribution by NNPC Retail “is the problem that leads to price disparity,” adding that “we are now forced to go and buy products from retail outlets and some of these tank farm owners at a very exorbitant price.”

Also commenting on the issue, the National President, IPMAN, Debo Ahmed, said the situation at private depots (coastal depots) was quite worrisome.

He said downstream oil sector operators “must do something now to restore the depleted faith of independent marketers, especially at the Port Harcourt coastal depots.”

Ahmed’s remarks, which was forwarded to our correspondent by the association’s PRO, read in part, “In the second week of February this year, a vessel discharged about 28 million litres (622 trucks) of PMS in TSL depot (Oando).

“A 162-trucks programme was released for IPMAN, which was about 7.3 million litres. Out of the 162-trucks programme given to us, we struggled to load less than 100 trucks. About 62 tickets are still there waiting for the next vessel.

“In the last week of February, another vessel discharged 13 million litres (288 trucks) of PMS at Liquid Bulk. Only a 56-trucks programme was released for IPMAN. We were all expecting the next programme, just to hear that the product finished last week.”

He also stated that last week, a vessel with 13 million litres (288 trucks) discharged at Master Energy.

“As at this moment, IPMAN has not received any programme for that product. Another vessel will discharge at TSL. IPMAN, what’s our fate?” the association’s president stated.

He added, “This is the right time to toss away the crutches of comfort and restore the hope and expectations of all independent marketers. Is important we start our protest as soon as possible.

“This is important so that Nigerias will know what is going on with us and the new retail. The lopsided distribution pattern will continue to cause scarcity and price disparity in retail outlets.”

When contacted for comments on the matter, the Chief Corporate Communications Officer, NNPCL, Garba-Deen Muhammad, requested that the enquiry be sent to him via WhatsApp. This was done, but he had yet to reply up till the time of filing this report.

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