Some groups of irate youths on Tuesday took over major streets and areas in Abeokuta, Ogun state capital with bonfires as part of protest against naira crisis and fuel scarcity in the country.
BusinessDay reports that the angry youths were armed with dangerous weapons such as cutlasses, broken bottles, cudgel, among others, trooping through some areas, inclduing Panseke, Asero, Aladesanmi, Somorin, Oke-Ilewo and Sapon, all in Abeokuta metropolis to express their anger over the hardship as ocassioned by Naira crisis and fuel scarcity.
The Sapon branch of First Bank of Nigeria and that of the Guaranty Trust Bank in Asero were vandalised as the protesters attempted to set them ablaze, but it took the swift intervention of Policemen at the Zone II Area Command at Oke-Ilewo area of Abeokuta to prevent and disarm the protesters who were heading towards the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) branch at the area.
Confirming the incident, Abimbola Oyeyemi, the Ogun State Police Command, said the officers were monitoring the situation to prevent the destruction of property and loss of lives.
Meanwhile, Governor Dapo Abiodun of Ogun State has called on the protesters to stop the protests and allow the outcome of his engagement with the Bankers’ Committee and the Central Bank of Nigeria to yield fruits.
Governor Abiodun, who made this known during the Statutory meeting of the Council of Obas, held at the Oba’s complex, Oke-Mosan, Abeokuta, noted that the Central Bank of Nigeria, is doing its best to arrest the situation.
The governor said the matter was being discussed at the highest level with both President Muhammadu Buhari and the CBN governor, Godwin Emefiele, in their quest to resolve the crisis.
The governor recalled that All Progressives Congress governors had met with President Muhammadu Buhari, pleading that the old naira notes should be allowed to run as legal tender along with the redesigned currency, pending the resolution of the cash crunch crisis.
While calling for calm, the governor said the voices of the protesters had been heard loud and clear and that the government is responding.
“I call on our youths to discontinue the street protests and constructively engage government in finding solutions.
“It has become necessary to formally appeal to all concerned, having heard from many concerned Nigerians and having conducted series of meetings, along with my brother governors, with President Muhammadu Buhari and the Governor of Central Bank, Godwin Emefiele and security chiefs on the challenges, sufferings and pains being experienced over this cash scarcity and cash swap occasioned by the redesigning of our currency.
“I have also personally had to engage the controller of the Central Bank of Nigeria in Abeokuta and other bank managers to seek relief on the amounts that citizens can withdraw in exchange for deposits made in commercial banks and extracted a commitment that people would have access to their deposited funds without hitches, as CBN will supply adequately to the commercial banks.
“I understand the frustration, disappointments of our citizens queuing at Automated Teller Machines (ATMs), waiting to cash money for hours or entering banking halls only to be turned back or given so little that is not enough to meet their immediate needs”, the governor said.
He added that he does not have a doubt that the intention of this policy was not to unleash hardship and suffering on our teeming populace.
“We will hear from the President as to what steps are being taken to bring succour and relief to Nigerians. My plea to our monarchs being the closest to the grassroots is to ensure the maintenance of peace in their domains with the support of their subjects.
“We will not be where we are in terms of socio-economic development in an atmosphere of insecurity; so we owe a lot to you and my charge to you this afternoon is that you please help us manage this situation.
“Our people will listen to you, they will trust and believe you, please help us to intervene. Ogun State has always had a record of managing our problems in a very different way. When we had #EndSARS, we remained the most peaceful state across the country and I do not have a doubt that in that same manner that we managed ourselves during #EndSARS, we will also do so during this period.
Governor Abiodun further said it is disheartening to see bank buildings being vandalised and people resorting to violence to register their displeasure.
“We shouldn’t allow our state to descend to that level. We are a peaceful and peace-loving people and the safest state in the country. I want to use this medium to plead with our youths that when there is a problem, the solution is not to hit the streets and to start protest marches; we can not solve a problem with another problem.
“Civil disobedience will rather exacerbate the anguish in the land. Let us stay away from avoidable loss of lives and properties. Please, let us embrace peace. We are a very peaceful state; we are very orderly and we have spent a lot of time and energy to invest in the peace and security of our people. We must eschew provocation that could lead to a breakdown of law and order.”
In his remarks, the Chairman, Ogun State Council of Obas and the Paramount ruler of Remoland, Oba Babatunde Ajayi while thanking the Governor for looking after the welfare of the traditional institution in the state, noted that the 2021 Obas law is a comprehensive piece of legislation.
He charged monarchs in the state to go back and look at the laws all over again as it is meant to give a lot of guidance in terms of appointment of Obas and Coronet Obas.