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Banks’ mute on Senate’s drive to investigate illegal charges, deductions

Barely 24 hours after the Senate resolved to conduct an investigation into the spate of illegal charges and deductions from accounts of their customers by commercial banks, many of the banks contacted for comments declined.

One of the commercial banks’ management officials, who pleaded anonymity, said “We have been hearing of such probes and investigations, but the fact remains that all banks’ charges and deductions are in line with international best practices and none of them is intended to cheat Nigerians”.

Senate’s resolution to look into the observed sharp practices came after the adoption of a motion moved by Senator Magnus Abe (Rivers State) and 22 others, entitled, ‘Urgent Need to Investigate, Regularise and Amend Conflicting, Vague and Unjust Remedies, which the Central Bank of Nigeria Offers to Victims of Excessive and Arbitrary Bank Charges and Illegal Deductions by Commercial Banks.’

Key prayer of the motion among others was for government to “pro-actively protect customers’ rights, eradicate short payment of interests and end the culture of excess and arbitrary bank charges; these steps if taken, will reposition the banks to avert future re-occurrence.”

Accordingly, the Senate Committee on Banking, Insurance and Other Financial Institutions was directed to conduct a public hearing on the matter.

During the hearing, the Committee will invite the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Godwin Emefiele, and other stakeholders, such as forensic auditors, managing directors of commercial banks and the Bankers’ Committee.

While noting that the hearing was not to embarrass the banking industry, Senate made it clear that it aims to harmonise and amend industry laws, rules and guidelines that do not adequately protect the customers to end chances of rip-offs.

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