At The Mercy Of Nigerian Banks | Independent Newspapers Limited
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At The Mercy Of Nigerian Banks

Posted: Mar 28, 2016 at 3:00 am   /   by   /   comments (1)

Mike Udah

When, some years ago, banks in Nigeria subjected their customers to humiliation by assigning embarrassing tasks to them, little did the latter realize that worse days were yet to come.

At that time, bank workers, among other things, requested customers to put on the banks’ wraps on their monies and write their accounts’ numbers on the wraps before their deposits were accepted. Some of the customers had protested, albeit mildly, against those, otherwise, obnoxious practices.

But these days are even worse. The banks have virtually turned their customers into slaves. Their charges are as innumerable and nauseating as they are exorbitant: maintenance charge, stamp duty, COT, alert charge, Value Added Tax (VAT), commission on transfer and what have you. For instance, on every one million Naira a customer withdraws from his /her current account, one hundred thousand Naira is deducted!

In most cases, there are no prior notices served on the customers as to the commencement of these charges. Sometimes, these charges are deducted more than once on the same transaction.

Some banks deduct more charges than others, leaving customers to wonder whether they are operating within different countries and under different laws. The regulatory authority- the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) – and relevant bodies such as the Institute of Bankers, the National Economic Council (NEC) and the Federal Ministry of Finance seem to be helpless. In fact, some banks claim the Central Bank of Nigeria is behind all the charges they slam on customers.

There is no gainsaying that the Nigerian public has suffered a lot of indignities in the hands of bankers. Most of the banks today do not care a hoot about the comfort of their customers. The banking halls do not have adequate chairs, leaving most of the customers standing as they wait endlessly for lousy, insensitive and poorly trained staff to attend to them.

A customer who recently relocated from the South-East to Lagos spent three weeks without luck, trying to obtain a Debit Card( popularly referred to as the ATM card) from a new generation bank in Festac Town. On one occasion, he was requested to fill a form and he did. He was then asked to return after three days. When he did, he was again asked to come back later on the day when the cards (according to the female staff attending to him) would have been brought to the bank premises. When he did that, the lady simply uttered “ATM Cards have not been delivered”. This was after the customer had spent about thirty minutes standing in a queue after writing his account number , account name and appending his signature on a piece of paper given him by the lady.

If the above scenario was not terrible enough ,the deliberate seizure of depositors’ funds is unfathomable. Last December, an 82- year- old, great grandmother applied for the transfer of her five million Naira to another bank account held by her daughter. Five clear days elapsed; her bank did not carry out her instruction after she had filled the necessary papers and complied with all the “directives” given to her. Worried, her daughter stormed this old generation bank to find out why her account (domiciled in a new generation bank) was not credited after her mother had complied with all the “rules”. Meanwhile, not only did this daughter of hers hold an account in the same bank where her mother had this money , she( the former) had on several occasions, transferred money from her account in this new generation bank to her mother’s in the old generation bank( where the duo had deposits).

To the chagrin of this 82 year- old woman’s daughter, the bank official asked her to request her mother to appear in the bank for the second time, remarking that she wanted to ensure the aged woman had not been hoodwinked. To cut a long story short, it took more than a fortnight for that transfer to be effected, but not without the octogenarian shouting on top of her voice in the banking hall, an uproar which attracted the attention of the branch Manager who now promised mama that her instruction would be effected without further delay.

The truth of the matter, however, was that mama’s bank was mopping up deposits to meet the end-of-year requirements of the apex bank (CBN) and did not want to ‘lose’ the money already in its kitty.

***Nigerian banks’ sins are legion. They run fixed deposit accounts at various interest rates. When these fixed deposits mature, they swiftly roll them over at lower interest rates than had been agreed upon, without even deeming it necessary to hint their customers about their decisions.***

Comments (1)

  • Mar 31, 2016 at 10:31 am Emmanuel Ugah

    Thug of war

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