Senate has asked Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) Mr. Godwin Emefiele, his officials and chief executives of commercial banks, as well as other stakeholders including forensic auditors to appear before it and proffer answers to arbitrary financial charges issued to customers.
The Senate however, mandated its Committee on Banking, Insurance and other Financial Institutions, to organise a public hearing for the purpose of harmonizing and amending laws, rules and guidelines that do not adequately protect the customers and give them substantial remedy when overcharged.
The lawmakers are worried that over the years, commercial banks in Nigeria have indulged in sharp practices of overcharging customers/depositors arbitrarily and excessively, contrary to tariff stipulations, credit and monetary guidelines issued from time to time by the CBN.
The Upper Chamber maintained that if the ugly trend is allowed to continue unabated, Nigerians will be worse of for it, while the commercial banks will continue to declare huge profits at the expense of innocent Nigerians from regular depositors to business firms”
The Senate’s position followed a motion on urgent need to investigate, regularise 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, sponsored by Senator Magnus Abe (APC Rivers South-East) and 22 others.
Because of this, the Senate has charged the federal government to eradicate short payments of interests and terminate the culture of arbitrary bank charges with a view to protecting the right of customers.
Leading the debate, Senator Abe avvered that the CBN had on February 20 reported that it had recovered about N2.6billion from banks as excess charges imposed on their customers in 2015 through a statement issued by the Director, Corporate Communications Department Muazu Ibrahim.
According to him, “In 2015 alone, the apex bank investigated about 6000 of such cases”, he said, lamenting that several of “the CBN five applicable rules that should remedy such hardship and discourage sharp practices by the commercial banks are conflicting, vague and unjust, thereby causing the commercial banks to frequently short change their customers.”
In their contributions, Senators Emmanuel Bwacha (APC Taraba Central), Dino Melaye (APC Kogi West), noted that money running into several thousands and millions are being illegally deducted from customers’ savings without their consent.
Noting, the lawmakers informed that dead customers were major victims of such deductions, and emphasized the need for banks to always contact the next of kins for account details of their customers immediately they passed on.