The Senate on Tuesday mandated its Committee on Banking to probe alleged arbitrary charges and illegal deductions by commercial banks in the country.
This followed the adoption of a motion by Sen. Magnus Abe and 22 others.
The motion is entitled “Urgent Need to Investigate, Regularise and Amend Conflicting, Vague and Unjust Remedies which the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) Offers to Victims of Excess and Arbitrary Bank Charges and Illegal Deductions by Commercial Banks’’.
Moving the motion, Abe said that over the years, commercial banks indulged in sharp practices of overcharging customers arbitrarily, contrary to tariff stipulations, credit and monetary guidelines.
He said that some CBN rules tailored toward discouraging sharp practices by the commercial banks were conflicting, vague and unjust.
According to him, the CBN reported that it recovered about N2.6 billion from depositors’ funds in some commercial banks as excess charges imposed on their customers in 2015.
“Several of the CBN’s applicable rules that should remedy such hardship and discourage sharp practices by the commercial banks are conflicting, vague and unjust.
“This is causing the commercial banks to frequently short change their customers.
“Also, requests made by bank customers to the CBN for clarification of the rules are largely ignored.
“The trend if allowed to continue, will imply that Nigerians will continue to suffer while banks would declare huge profits,’’ the lawmaker said.
Supporting the motion, Sen. Dino Melaye, expressed worry that some commercial banks failed to contact next-of-kin to deceased customers.
Melaye said that there was urgent need to conduct a public hearing “in order to expose more irregularities in the banking sector’’.
“For instance, customers incur a lot of charges which are not imbedded in the terms and conditions of loan facilities.
“We see some deductions as too little that we pay less attention to those arbitrary hidden charges.
“How many Nigerians probe these arbitrary charges, but banks keep collecting them to their advantage,’’ he said.
In his contribution, Sen. Yusuf Yusuf said that many customers failed to read the terms and conditions while taking loans.
“There are obvious conditions but customers don’t look into the terms and conditions because they are so desperate to have the money, so they just go ahead to sign.
“There is need to educate people on some of these things and those seeking loans should consult experts to guide them properly,’’ Yusuf said.
On his part, the Deputy Leader of the Senate, Sen. Bala Na’Allah, said, “the crux of this motion is to check institutions that exercise powers that they don’t have under the law.
“We woke up one morning and realised of a circular from CBN stating that if you withdraw over N500, 000 you pay a fee.
“The issue is who gave that order and who is collecting the money,’’ Na’Állah said.
In his remarks, President of the Senate, Dr Bukola Saraki, said that there was need for compliance with the resolution.
According to Saraki, bank operations must be in line with the laws.
“Every Nigerian is important and our rights must be protected; so, this motion is apt and I believe it will defend Nigerians who are voiceless,’’ he added.