By Ikechukwu Okaforadi and Musa Adamu
Senate has passed a resolution asking the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to suspend the ATM card maintenance charges which are deducted from customers account and direct banks to reconfigure their ATM to discharge N40,000 pending the outcome of the investigation by the senate committees on baking on the issues.
To this end, the red chamber mandated its Committees on Banking Insurance & other Financial Institutions, and Finance to invite the Governor of Central Bank of Nigeria, Godwin Emefiele, to appear before it to explain why the official charges as approved by the apex bank is favorable to banking institutions against the Nigerian citizens.
Specifically, the upper legislative chamber directed the committees to conduct an investigation into the propriety of Automated Teller Machine card maintenance charges in comparison with international best practices and report back to it.
Moreover, it charged the Consumer Protection Council to be up and doing in defending the plight of ordinary Nigerians by looking into the various complaints of excess and unnecessary charges by banks.
These resolutions were sequel to a motion “llicit and Excessive Charges by Nigerian Banks on customers account with particular focus on Automated Teller Machine, ATM Maintenance and Withdrawal Charges” moved by Senator Olugbenga Ashafa (APC Lagos East).
Ashafa in moving the motion, said “there have been several complaints from Nigerians generally and on social media concerning illicit and excessive charges by Nigerian commercial banks on customers account with particular focus on ATM maintenance charges and ATM withdrawal charges.
He noted that the CBN had in 2017 increased the maintenance fees charged by banks on debit and credit card maintenance from N100 a year to N50 per month (N600 a year) as contained in its “Guide to Charges by Banks and other Financial Institutions
He further noted that “card users are charged N65 per withdrawal from the ATM, after the third monthly withdrawal from the ATM outside that of the domicile bank of the said ATM user”.
According to him, most banks have deliberately manipulated their ATM machines not to dispense more that N10,000 per withdrawal in some cases and in most cases not more than N20,000 per withdrawal at the machines.
“This is a deliberate ploy to manipulate the ATM machines which are ordinarily manufactured to dispense as much as N40,000 per transaction, in order to attract more bank charges from customers who are forced to carry out more transactions due to the manipulated machines;
“It appears the CBN is becoming insensitive to the plight of Nigerians who are already complaining of excessive charges by commercial banks.
If the CBN is trying to encourage a cashless Nigeria, why should they be making it more difficult and expensive for Nigerians to do transactions”, he said.
Contributing, Deputy Monitory Leader, Senator Emmanuel Bwacha (PDP Traba South), said: “Banks declare profits and you wonder where these profits are coming from — it’s from the sweat of the common man. Let us come up with a law that puts banks on their toes”.
Also, the Deputy Majority Leader, Senator Bala Ibn Na’Allah (APC Kebbi South), said: “It won’t be out of place to institute a committee that will call on the CBN to tell us what these charges are about. The Senate by fiat should abolish charges if they can’t be verified”.
In his ruling, the Senate President, Bukola Saraki said: “This is a motion that affects the lives of every Nigerian — irrespective of what part of the country you come from or whatever political affiliation you might have. This is why we are here – to always defend and protect the interests of our people. Therefore, on this, I want us to take effective resolutions.”