Sunday Aborisade, Abuja
The Senate on Wednesday mandated its Committee on Banking, Insurance and Other Financial Institutions to investigate the alleged illicit and excess bank charges by commercial banks operating in the country.
The upper chamber urged the Central Bank of Nigeria to look into the complaints of Nigerians in that regard with a view to reviewing downward all charges on their bank accounts.
The resolutions were reached following the consideration of a motion sponsored by Senator Patrick Abba Moro, a former Minister of Interior.
The lawmaker noted the Senate became concerned following several complaints from Nigerians over illicit and excessive charges by Nigerian Commercial Banks on customers’ accounts.
Moro said such charges and deductions range from bank SMS charges, intra-bank transfer charges in the sum of N52.59 Kobo, ATM Card renewal charges, and account maintenance charges in the sum of N93.13 kobo.
He said, “These charges being deducted from customers’ accounts by banks have caused uproar within the public as Nigerians have expressed their dissatisfaction and displeasure over such excessive deductions which they feel are fraudulent and targeted at further impoverishing Nigerians.”
He recalled that in April 2017, the Central Bank of Nigeria revised the card maintenance charges in the new guide released from N100 annually to N50 monthly.
Moro said, “According to the Nigeria Inter-Bank Settlement System the Central database for banking transactions in the country showed that as at September 30, 2016, there were 29.4 million active cards being used by the 63 million active bank customers.
“Thus, bank customers in Nigeria will pay not less than N1.462 bn to banks as card maintenance charges every month, totaling about N17.544 bn in a year.
“Questions are being asked by Nigerians as to what the money being deducted for the charges is for as countries overseas do not charge their customers in like manner.
“Nigerian banks in a bid to further extort customers have set most of their ATM machines to dispense cash below the maximum sum of N40,000 that ATMs are programmed to dispense per transaction.
“These customers using the Automated Teller Machines do not have a choice than to withdraw much lesser amounts per transaction thereby incurring the additional cost of N65 per transaction after using another Bank’s ATM machines beyond three times.”