Oppressive bank charges: Mr President, please stop this daylight robbery

Henry Boyo (lesleba@lesleba.com)

Regrettably, banks seem to perceive customer deposits as a burden, which must be taxed, rather than the actual base on which their total lending and ultimate profitability is primarily predicated. For example, with the subsisting mandatory Cash Reserve Ratio of 22.5 per cent for banks, a customer deposit of N1,000 will create at least additional N4,000 liquidity for the bank to lend out and profit from.”

“The irony is that the cost of adopting information technology has steadily declined with mass applications. So it is worrying that these “excessive bank charges” on deposits still subsists , despite the cost advantage, from the significant reduction in cash handling, floor space and the adoption of a less expensive contract Labour force, with vastly improved smart banking transactions Apps and infrastructure. Inexplicably, however, the REGULATOR appears HELPLESS to protect bank customers.” (See “Oppressive Bank Charges: When Silence is not Golden” – Economic Renaissance, 25th March 2019 @ www.lesleba.com and www.betternigerianow.com.

The above is an excerpt from the article published last week. A few rejoinders to that article and some public comments on the banks’ financial rascality, particularly from the social media, follow hereafter. Please read on.

Dara Usman: “It is quite disheartening that Nigerian banks, as presently designed, are not part of the drivers of the economy of this country. The illegal money deduction is enough for them to make huge profit without giving anybody a loan. N52.50 per transaction for 1 million customers every day within a year comes to N19bn. ATM maintenance fees and POS deduction come to several billions of naira. The CBN Governor, Minister of Finance and the Federal Government (should) perform their duties.”

KCU Macebuh:  “A good investigative reporting. It just shows that every facet of life in Nigeria is susceptible to corruption in which banks are literally and practically engaged in. The Point of Sales is the worst. The banks have so crafted the covert fraud to ensure that the amount charged on the declined POS transaction was never large enough to attract one’s visit to the bank, since the bank would most likely not answer phone calls, the customer often forgoes the hassle of going to waste time pursuing the matter. Furthermore, the banks are not likely to reverse the debit without the customer having to file a claim. The whole system is pure fraud and there ought to be a court injunction against this practice.”

Curtx Maccido: “The banks in Nigeria have been a DISGRACE! There are horrible banking services and rogue bankers everywhere, just as there are daily accounts of unethical deals and stealing from customers with impunity. Honestly, the CBN and NDIC should have been scrapped because of the excessive charges carried out by the banks. The more worrisome are the directors who will knowingly guide their banks to steal from customers without regard to the regulations! Even when you complain to the bank and CBN… nothing happens. Clearly the banks and the regulators cooperate to steal from customers! What about SEC – after all, most banks are public companies. The attitude of SEC is worse than that of the CBN and NDIC. EFCC should investigate banking business in Nigeria, most of their directors, including hundreds of the members of the staff of the CBN and NDIC, as well as SEC officials will be jailed! They are a bunch of corporate fraudsters!”

Shabadoo: “I have a case at hand with one of the banks that have connections with South Africa where I opened a Form M and it took over a year to fulfill. I operate in the IT industry and a year is too long because of many changes. So I had to cancel the LC because the items ordered earlier were nearing expiration and my supplier was out of stock. Surprisingly, the bank claimed that the Central Bank of Nigeria repurchased the USD meant for the LC at a price lower than what they sold to me leaving a gap of about N5m. It is more than a year now, but the CBN has not responded to my mails and the bank is claiming to be helpless. I am looking at the only available option left as I will never let this go away.”

Sincerity:  “I honestly do know that at the rate at which we are going, soon many of us will have to start keeping our cash in our homes. I am aware of the risk, but it is worth taking. Imagine some of our uneducated parents and families saving some money in the bank in the hope of gaining something at the end of the year only to be told that the money had depleted as a result of Stamp duty charges. If you deposit money 30 times in a month, you have to suffer N1,500 depletion. What nonsense! To make matters worse, both savings and current accounts are treated in same manner. How then are we going to encourage a savings culture among the poor and less priveleged? The earlier the Federal Government does something about this the better for all. I hope somebody is listening.”

Similarly, Nollywood star, Mercy Johnson-Okojie called out her bank for inflicting so many oppressive charges on her account. She unhappily noted as follows: “Cash handling charge, Vat on cash handling charge, account maintenance fee, stamp duty charge, bill payment charge + VAT, forfeiture interest payment deduction, notification charge, SMS notification charge, ATM Card maintenance fee, NIP charge + VAT on every dime withdrawn, plus days when they just deduct money from your account with no explanation. Is this just me or is this ridiculous? Do we shun banks and do daily contributions (ajo)?What body is responsible for checkmating these senseless charges?”

Furthermore, on September 6, 2018, Premium Times similarly published some bank customers’ angry responses under the caption of “Nigerians accuse banks of illicit, excessive charges; demand reforms.”

A Nigerian medical doctor based in the United Kingdom, Harvey Olufunmilayo, also started a campaign tagged, Reform9jabanks. In his tweet, Olufunmilayo noted, “I have lived in the UK a few years now and NEVER has my bank ever charged me one penny for bank transfer. Not (for) once.”

Also, a university student, Uthman Samad, explained that double ATM card maintenance fees were still being deducted on a lost UBA ATM, card which he had deactivated and renewed a year ago.

Another customer, a student, Emere Ogechi, in her tweet also decried how over N1,000 was missing in her account: “It’s painful. My mum once sent me 5k on a Friday to buy a textbook. I had no ATM card yet. So I couldn’t withdraw cash, but they kept on debiting me all through the weekend and by Monday only N3,900 was left. You should have seen me shouting for them to close the account.

“I cannot count the number of times @wemabank had made me suffer this kinda heartbreak. Even when I don’t use the account for a month talk more getting alerts, they charge for SMS and other frivolities, said Agbede Adekunle @AgbedeAdekunleO, another user.”

Another bank user, Ife Mayowa stated, “I use @ZenithBank and every month I am being charged close to N165 to N200 for SMS alert. I went to tell them that I want to deactivate because I can’t be paying that much. I want to stick to email.”

The cries of agony from tens of millions of bank customers, who have been shortchanged by the system, continue unabated. Invariably, every Nigerian with a bank account is victim of this heist. The attempts by CBN and banks to redress this glaring injustice remain feeble and certainly not reassuring. We, therefore, call on President Buhari, to please DO SOMETHING so that Nigerians will see him as a compassionate leader who will quickly rise to protect public interests rather than protect those pick-pockets masquerading as the Bankers’ Committee. Bank customers are masters and not slaves.

P.S. Other victims of oppressive bank charges may post their comments on Twitter @betternigerianow #BUHARI: #Pleasestopbanks’daylightrobbery!


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