Senate Calls For The Immediate Suspension Of Bank Charges, Gives CBN Strict Marching Order
The Bukola Saraki-led Senate, on Wednesday, 17th October 2018, condemned the illicit and excessive deductions charged by Banks from their customers. This followed a motion sponsored by the Senator representing Lagos East Senatorial District, Senator Gbenga Ashafa.
Ashafa while moving the motion, titled: “Motion condemning Illicit and Excessive charges by Nigerian Banks on Customers’ Accounts, with particular focus on Automated Teller Machine (ATM) Maintenance and withdrawal charges”, noted that: “The Central Bank of Nigeria in 2017, increased the maintenance fees charged by Banks on debit and credit card maintenance, from N100 a year to N50 per month (N600 a year), as contained in its “Guide to Charges by Banks and other Financial Institutions”.”
He expressed concern that there have been several complaints from Nigerians generally, and on the social media, concerning illicit and excessive charges being deducted by Nigerian Commercial Banks, and cited examples, such as the campaign tagged #Reform9jabanks, led by a UK Based Nigerian Medical Doctor, Harvey Olufunmilayo, who lamented about the state of Banks in Nigeria, compared to those abroad.
On the issue of ATM withdrawal charges, the Senator further drew the attention of the Senate, to the fact that some Banks deliberately manipulate their ATM to dispense smaller amounts of cash, so that customers can exceed the three monthly withdrawal limit, thereby subjecting ATM card users to the repeated payment of the N65 charge.
Ashafa concluded saying: “It appears the CBN is becoming insensitive to the plight of Nigerians, who are already complaining of excessive charges by Commercial Banks. If the CBN is trying to encourage a cashless Nigeria, why should they be making it more difficult and expensive for Nigerians to do transactions?”
The motion enjoyed the support of most Senators, including the Deputy Senate President, Senator Ike Ekweremadu, and Senators Solomon Olamilekan, Ibn Na’Allah, Barnabas Gemade, and Emmanuel Bwacha, among others, who spoke vehemently in favour of the prayers contained in the motion, and the plight of Nigerians.
The Senate President, Senator Bukola Saraki, expressed his thanks to Senator Ashafa, for moving the motion, which he acknowledged as very important. He further said: “We have done this on a number of similar cases. I want us to take effective resolutions. For me this is a major step that we are taking. This is because, I introduced the first ATM that came into Nigeria, 25 years ago. Now after 25 years, we should have grown out of these excessive charges and moved on. So, I believe this is something that we must address, to create an environment that protects all Nigerians. Because this kinds of charges in this economy affects everyone.”
The Senate at the end of considering the motion, resolved amongst other things that the Committee on Banking, Insurance and other Financial Institutions, cause an investigation into this charges by Banks, and asked the Central Bank of Nigeria, CNN, to suspend the ATM Card maintenance charges, pending the outcome of the investigation.