The Senate yesterday mandated its Committee on Banking to investigate alleged excess and arbitrary bank charges and illegal deductions by commercial banks.
The Upper Chamber also resolved to summon the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Mr. Godwin Emefiele, managing directors of commercial banks, forensic auditors and the Bankers Committee, with a view to harmonising and amending relevant banking laws, rules and guidelines that do not adequately protect the customers and remedy when overcharged.
The Committee was specifically asked to conduct investigative hearing and thoroughly probe the CBN and commercial banks’ operational charges, with a view to finding an enduring solution to anomaly.
The resolutions followed the consideration of a motion, entitled, “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.”
The motion sponsored by Senator Magnus Ngei Abe (Rivers South East) had 22 others as co-sponsors.
Abe, in his lead debate, said that over the years, commercial banks in the country have indulged in sharp practices of over charging customers/depositors arbitrarily and excessively contrary to tariff stipulations, credit and monetary guidelines issued from time to time by the CBN.
He said: “If this 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 lawmaker said that he is aware that the CBN on the 20th February reported that it had recovered about N2.6bn from banks as excess charges imposed on their customers in 2015 through a statement issued by the Director, Corporate Communications Department Muazu Ibrahim.
Abe said that in 2015 alone, the apex bank investigated about 6000 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;
He added that requests made by Bank Customers to the Central Bank of Nigeria for clarification of the rules are largely ignored.
The lawmaker expressed worry that “if this 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.”
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