“Not signs of maturity”: Archbishop in Nigeria on Riots, Bank Vandalism amid Cash Shortage

Archbishop Ignatius Kaigama of Nigeria's Abuja Archdiocese. Credit: Archdiocese of Abuja

The Local Ordinary of Abuja Archdiocese in Nigeria has expressed his disapproval of the recent riots and bank vandalism following the cash shortage in the West African nation.

In his Sunday, February 19 homily at St. Augustine’s Parish of his Metropolitan See, Archbishop Ignatius Ayau Kaigama condemned “the unruly acts of rioting” and described them as “not signs of maturity”.

“The unruly acts of rioting in some parts of the nation that attacked bank ATMs, beat up some bank staff, vandalized banks and destroyed bank properties, blocked streets, forcing businesses to close, are not signs of maturity,” Archbishop Kaigama said.

A February 15 media report indicates that some rioters in Africa’s most populous nation attacked bank ATMs and blocked roads in three cities as anger spilled on the streets over scarcity of cash.

The riots that happened in the Southwestern city of Ibadan, Benin City, and Delta State in Southern Nigeria led to the arrest of nine suspects after two banks and two vehicles were torched.


Cash has been scarce in the country since the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) adopted new bank notes in January this year. 

In October last year, CBN announced plans to redesign its highest-value banknotes in a bid to address the challenge of excess cash and inflation. 

In his February 19 homily, Archbishop Kaigama joined other Nigerian Catholic Church leaders who have lamented the ongoing process of redesigning Nigeria’s currency, the Naira.

He said that the process of swapping the old bank notes “has plunged many Nigerians into untold hardship, because of very limited access to physical cash.”

On February 16, Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Nigeria (CBCN) urged the government to “immediately increase the circulation of new Naira notes” to address the shortage.

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Archbishop Kaigama also reflected on the upcoming general elections in Nigeria, and called upon his compatriots to “play their role in creating a better Nigeria by participating in the elections in six days’ time.”

“This time we want an election of a credible and competent candidate and not an election marred by manipulation or violence that scares away voters,” said the 64-year-old Archbishop who has been at the helm of Abuja Archdiocese since November 2019.

He expressed optimism that the electoral agencies including the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), security agents, and the judiciary  “will not bow to pressure from any quarters and compromise their work.”

He said that if the agencies perform their duties well, then “only true winners in the elections who are honorable, just, pure, lovely, can emerge and free Nigerians from the bondage of economic hardship, criminality and needless division based on tribe and religion.”

The Catholic Church leader who started his Episcopal Ministry in April 1995 as Bishop of Nigeria’s Jalingo Diocese also called on government "to do more to safeguard the lives and property of citizens; to improve the economy of the nation as the high cost of goods and services continues to skyrocket.”


Silas Mwale Isenjia is a Kenyan journalist with a great zeal and interest for Catholic Church related communication. He holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Linguistics, Media and Communication from Moi University in Kenya. Silas has vast experience in the Media production industry. He currently works as a Journalist for ACI Africa.