The Central bank of Nigeria (CBN) has urged Nigerians to be wary of excessive charges by their bankers rather than boycott the banks today, March 1, 2016 as advocated by some consumer protection groups.
The Consumer Advocacy Foundation of Nigeria (COFAN), a coalition of Nigerian consumer protection associations and The Ombudsman, a public service and industry watch had declared today a ‘No Banking Day’ in protest against excessive and arbitrary charges by commercial banks.
However, the apex bank, which faulted the call for boycott, advised CAFON and other groups calling for boycott of banking services to encourage Nigerians to make complaints related to excessive channels to the appropriate quarters for prompt redress.
In an earlier statement, the CBN had admitted that it receives series of complaints from customers of deposit money banks alleging excessive and illegal charges which are at variance with the allowable charges specified in the Revised Guide to Bank Charges.
“The CBN has investigated over 6,000 complaints relating to unauthorised bank charges brought to its notice, following which banks have been compelled to refund the sum of over ₦6.2 billion to affected customers in 2015 alone,” the apex bank said, adding that it would not condone the fleecing of banking customers under any guise.
Meanwhile, normal activities have been going on in the banks visited this morning. Many of the bank customers told our correspondents that they were not aware of any declaration of a ‘No Banking Day’. They, however, agreed that the issue of excessive and arbitrary charges have been giving them a lot of concern.
Despite this, many bank customers do not make any formal complaints against arbitrary charges because they consider such a waste of time. Alice Babalola, a textile dealer who was in one of the new generation banks along Oba Akran Avenue, Ikeja, Lagos, for instance, said: “The amount is usually small and pursuing a complaint requires a lot of time. That is why usually ignore these charges.”
Adenrele Adebayo, a marketing executive who said he has determined not to patronise his bank or use any ATM today in compliance with the ‘No Banking Day’ declaration, however, faulted Babalola’s position. “If all of us continue to thing that way, then we are giving the banks a reason to continue exploiting us. No matter how small you think the amount is, when you add everything in a single year and multiply by the millions of bank customers similarly affected, the sum is huge,” he said.
He urged bank customers to report cases of arbitrary and excessive charges to their banks, the Consumer Protection Council (CPC) and CBN, as well as Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) committed to the fight for consumer rights.
Consumer Life Nigeria gathered that the fight against arbitrary charges is not a one day affair. The consumer advocates have vowed to continue the fight until the protection of bank customers in the country is guaranteed.