Senate frowns at ATM charges, N10,000 max withdrawal, others; summons CBN Governor

Godwin Emefiele
CBN Governor. Godwin Emefiele

The Senate on Wednesday asked its committees on Banking, Insurance & other Financial Institutions and Finance to invite the Governor of Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Godwin Emefiele, to explain why its approved official charges are skewed in favour of banks as against ordinary bank customers.

The committees are also to investigate the propriety of ATM Card maintenance charges in comparison with international best practices and report back to the Senate.

These resolutions were sequel to a motion sponsored by Gbenga Ashafa (APC, Lagos East) on “Illicit and Excessive Charges by Nigerian Banks on customers account with particular focus on Automated Teller Machine (ATM) Maintenance and Withdrawal Charges.”

Mr Ashafa noted there have been several complaints from Nigerians generally and on social media concerning illicit and excessive charges by commercial banks on customers’ account with particular focus on ATM maintenance charges and ATM withdrawal charges.

CBN 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.”

Mr Ashafa referred to a viral campaign that began on social media on September 3, where many Nigerians called for reforms of the banks.

He also referred to a PREMIUM TIMES report on September 6, which quoted a Nigerian, Eniola who lives in Qatar, as saying banks in that country do not charge customers for the use of ATM cards.

Mr Ashafa also expressed worry that most banks have deliberately manipulated their ATM not to dispense more that N10,000 per withdrawal in some cases and in most cases not more than N20,000.

“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.

In his contribution, the Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu, lamented that ATM charges are not the only charges on customers by banks. He said the CBN has the responsibility to protect the interests of Nigerians and not just make money for other banks.

He also said the Consumer Protection Council (CPC) is not “living to expectation.”Mr Ekweremadu, thereafter, urged the Senate to call the institutions to order and protect the interest of customers.

The Senate, thereafter, urged banks to allow N40,000 maximum per withdrawal through an ATM and not N10,000.

Other resolutions made by the Senate are “urge the Central Bank of Nigeria to suspend the ATM Card Maintenance Charges being deducted from customers account pending the outcome of the investigation by the Committees and

“Urge the Consumer Protection Council to be up and doing in taking up the plight of ordinary Nigerians by looking into the various complaints of excess and unnecessary charges by Nigerian Banks.”

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