By Modupe Gbadeyanka
Governor of Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Mr Godwin Emefiele, has been asked to appear before the Senate to explain reason for excess and arbitrary bank charges and illegal deductions allegedly by commercial banks operating in the country.
The Senate Committee on Banking, Insurance and other Financial Institutions also asked the Managing Directors of the lenders to appear before it.
This followed a motion moved at the plenary on Tuesday by Senator Magnus Abe titled ‘Urgent need to investigate, regularize and amend conflicting, vague and unjust remedies which the Central Bank of Nigeria offers to victims of Excess and Arbitrary Bank Charges and Illegal Deductions by Commercial Banks.’
The lawmaker said the upper parliament needs to urgently investigate, regularize and amend conflicting, vague and unjust remedies which the CBN offers to victims of excess and arbitrary bank charges and illegal deductions by commercial banks.
He warned that, “If this trend is allowed to continue unabated, Nigerians will be worse for it, while the commercial banks will continue to declare huge profits at the expense of innocent Nigerians from regular depositors to business firms.”
According to him, the CBN on the 20th February reported that it had recovered about N2.6 billion from banks as excess charges imposed on their customers in 2015 through a statement issued by the Director, Corporate Communications Department, Mr Muazu Ibrahim.
Mr Abe noted that in 2015 alone, the apex bank investigated about 6,000 of such cases.
He expressed concern that several of the Central Bank of Nigeria applicable rules that should remedy such hardship and discourage sharp practices by the commercial banks are conflicting, vague and unjust. There by causing the commercial banks to frequently short change their customers;
The Senator added that requests made by Bank Customers to the Central Bank of Nigeria for clarification of the rules are largely ignored.
In his contribution, Senator Dino Melaye raised the issues of no consent of deduction from banks on its customers as this has led to maximum profits over time by banks across the country and also called the attention of the Senate to direct the banks to contact the next of kin of dead customers as this has been a norm by banking sectors not declaring or contacting the next of kin rather than been secretive about the funds in the account.
“Banks need to be honest to its customers and there is need for the Senate to find out who in authority conferred such power to banks to make such deductions from customers without their consent, and what the money is being used for,” Senator Isah Misau said.
At the end of deliberations, the Senate resolved to urge the government to proactively protect customers rights, eradicate short payments of interest and end the culture of excess and arbitrary bank charges, these steps if taken will reposition the bank to avert future re-occurrence.
It also directed its committee on banking to conduct a public hearing and invite the CBN Governor, his officials and other stakeholders such as forensic auditors, MDs of commercial banks and bankers committee with a view to harmonizing and amending these laws, rules and guidelines that do not adequately protect the customers and give them substantial remedy when overcharged.
“I commend this very important motion particularly at this difficult time when every Naira is important.
“We must be seen to defend the interest of Nigerians who don’t have the voice to defend themselves. Again, the issue here is to get to the bottom of what the laws and guidelines are, and we should show that they are in line with laws and we have the powers to make such pronouncements,” the Senate President, Mr Bukola Saraki, said.
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