2023 GOVERNORSHIP AND
STATE HOUSE OF ASSEMBLY ELECTIONS
Reps to investigate illegal deductions, charges by banks, urges CBN to halt addition of social media handles to KYC requirements
The House of Representatives on Tuesday urged commercial banks operating in the country to put an end to excess charges and illegal deductions from their customers.
This call followed a motion presented by Rep. Godwin Offiono (PDP, Cross River), which the House unanimously adopted during Tuesday’s plenary.
Presenting the motion, Offiono noted that some banks and financial institutions in Nigeria indulge in the unethical practice of fleecing their customers through excess charges and unauthorised deductions.
He also notes that customers of different commercial banks are groaning over excessive charges on their accounts. The financial institutions known as Deposit Money Banks (DMBs) have reportedly introduced different deductions to increase their income, a development that is uncomfortable with customers.
The lawmaker acknowledged that apart from Stamp Duty, bank customers also pay Value Added Tax (VAT) charges applicable on all VATable transactions in their account. Offiono said, “Commercial Banks are charging outrageous interest on loans and overdrafts at a rate that is higher than the agreed rate in the offer letter.
The arbitrary increase in the interest rate on loans and overdrafts and increase in the other fees without notifying and getting customer’s consent as stipulated in the Central Bank /Chartered Institute of Bankers of Nigeria (CIBN) guideline.”
He expressed concern that the creation of charges not recognised in the Central Bank Guide to Bank Charges is a common practice by commercial banks.
“Also concerned about the wrong application of maintenance fees, banks overcharging maintenance fees, the inclusion of transactions exempted from maintenance charge, loan liquidation and bank-induced transactions amongst others.
Worried that as affected customers attempt to lodge complaints to the Bank’s Customer Care they are treated as beggars without result,” the lawmaker argued.
In adopting the motion, the House mandated the Committee on Banking and Currency (when constituted) to investigate the issue of excess charges and illegal deductions by commercial banks in Nigeria and report back for further legislative action, within four weeks.
Lawmakers Told CBN to Halt Addition of Social Media Handles to KYC Requirements
Also, Nigeria’s House of Representatives on Tuesday urged the Central Bank of Nigeria to halt the addition of social media handles on “Know Your Customer (KYC) requirements” in Nigeria.
The House also mandated its Committee on Banking and Currency (when constituted) to investigate the matter and report back within three weeks for further legislative action.
The resolutions followed the adoption of a motion sponsored by Hon. O. K. Chinda, Hon. Laori B. Kwamati, Hon. Kelechi Nwogu, Hon. Ginger Onwusibe, Hon. Mark Essiet, Hon. Abdulsamad Dasuki, Hon. Victor Ogbuzor, Hon. Blessing Amadi and Hon. Fred Agbedi.
Presenting the motion, Nwogu recalled the recent directive by the central bank to commercial banks on the addition of social media handles on KYC requirements, thus making it mandatory for commercial banks to comply.
He, however, noted that, “obtaining the additional information, would be useful to financial institutions in accessing customers’ online presence and activities, thus enabling better assessment of potential risks associated with money laundering, terrorism financing and proliferation financing.”
Nwogu said, “as laudable as this directive may appear, it may be unnecessary as it is likely to bear pressure on teeming Nigerian masses at a trying period. This is cognisant of the fact that this directive by the CBN is in conflict with the provision of Section 37 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended) on the right to privacy of citizens.
“This is also cognisant of the fact that banks in the country already have the names, telephone numbers, passport photographs, emails, National Identification Number (NIN), Biometric Verification Number (BVN), utility bills and other basic requirements with which to identify, know and monitor customers.
“There are better means of monitoring money laundering, terrorism financing, and proliferation financing, such as the Nigeria Police Force (NPF), Nigeria Financial Intelligence Unit (NFIU), the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), intelligence and crime tracking agencies, amongst others.”
He further stressed that if the directive takes effect, Nigerians who are not on social media, with large turn overs from their businesses and trades, would be compelled to or systematically excluded from formal banking systems with its attendant negative effects and implications.
“Implementing the CBN’s directive at this point may clearly be unnecessary as it is likely to bear a lot of pressure on teeming Nigerian masses,” he said.
However, the House also mandated its Committee on Legislative Compliance (when constituted) t o ensure implementation.
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