Banks May Lose N2.378bn Over March 1 Customers’ Protest | Independent Newspapers Limited
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Banks May Lose N2.378bn Over March 1 Customers’ Protest

Posted: Feb 26, 2016 at 7:26 am   /   by   /   comments (0)

Olamide Bakare, Lagos

Nigerian banks may lose an estimated N2.37 billion in revenue if customers heed to the planned sit out protest on March 1, 2016.

The protest tagged, #NoBankingDay, is being mobilized by concerned advocacy groups to press home some demands arising from complaints from aggrieved millions of customers over alleged excessive bank charges.

#NoBankingDay is a passive nationwide customer action to be embarked on by aggrieved consumers to avoid all banking services on March 1 in protest against excessive bank charges.

Speaking with Independent in Lagos, Ms. Sola Salako, the founder of Consumer Advocacy Foundation of Nigeria (CAFON), said the action became necessary in view of the series of unsatisfactory services, unfair trade practices and exploitation, which many customers of banks have been subjected to, noting that the group alongside other consumer advocacy groups are now prepared to fight the battle on consumers’ behalf.

“We have endured excessive charges, unexplainable fees and unfair contracts that only protect the banks but do not protect the consumers. Banks debit consumers’ accounts at will for charges we never agreed to or were not aware of”, she noted.

“We have been victims of management and regulatory lapses resulting in many consumers losing their deposits in the banking crisis of the last two decades. Thousands of consumers have been victims of ATM fraud because the banking industry failed in its duty of care to educate and inform consumers of the inherent dangers in online banking at commencement”, she reckoned, adding that some customers are still unable to access their deposits due to botched BVN registrations because the banks did not take time to properly educate them on the process before implementation.

While blaming the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) for not doing enough to protect the interest of Nigerians, particularly bank customers, Salako accused banks of taking advantage of the fluctuation in CBN policies to rip off many customers.

Citing instances where bank charges customers without proper notification, she explained that in such situation, many Nigerians have had to be at the receiving end with a lot of them bearing huge financial losses in the process.

Emphasising on the newly introduced N50 stamp duty by CBN, she noted that it was unfair for CBN to charge a flat levy for all transactions, stressing that it was more of taxing the poor to empower the rich.

“A new stamp duty charge of N50 on every transaction of over N1000 has just been introduced. While we recognize the need for the Federal Government to raise IGR in view of the current economic realities of our nation, there are legal issues on the validity of the levy. On our part, we question the fairness of a flat levy of N50 on deposits of N1000 or more. A student who receives an allowance of N2000 pays the same amount as a rich man who receives a deposit of N10 million! So the student is technically paying more taxes than the rich man. That is inequitable and unfair thus requires an immediate review”, Salako noted.

She pointed out that the charges being imposed were becoming more frustrating to consumers since many of the banks were doing little to support SMEs.