Nigerians accuse banks of illicit, excessive charges; demand reforms

Bank queue
Customers in a bank used to illustrate the story. [Photo credit: Bizzywizzy - blogger]

Nigerians at home and abroad have taken to social media to lament their experiences at the hands of commercial banks, who they accuse of exploitation.

Their concerns range from excessive deduction of bank charges for card maintenance and electronic payments to double deductions of stipulated charges.

In a campaign that began on social media last Monday, many Nigerians called for reforms of the banks.

In 2017, the Central Bank of Nigeria introduced a N100 monthly maintenance fee for a naira dominated debit card in the country and also a N50 charge for other months whether the card is used or not.

The apex bank also introduced a N4, 200-per-annum charge on foreign currency denominated cards as maintenance fee and a N50 charge on every cheque leaflet obtained and used.

Earlier this year, the CBN said any bank that deducts monies illegally from a customer’s account for products and services would be forced to refund the money to the customer with interest. The directive was sequel to complaints by bank customers within the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) over excess charges by banks through Automated Teller Machine (ATM) withdrawals and other electronic mediums.

But on Monday, a campaign tagged #Reform9jaBanks began on Twitter as a UK-based Nigerian medical doctor, Harvey Olufunmilayo, who started the campaign, lamented the state of banks in Nigeria in comparison with banks in foreign countries.

“I have lived in UK a few years now and NEVER has my bank ever charged me one penny for bank transfer. Never. Not (for) once!” the bank user stated.

Another Nigeria based in Qatar, Eniola @Henzyshso, stated that banks in Qatar do not charge customers for the use of ATM in any bank, while a university student, Uthman Samad, explained that the United Bank of Africa (UBA) removed double ATM card maintenance fee from his account for almost a year. According to him, the charges were being deducted “on a lost ATM card which he has deactivated and renewed a year ago.”

Mr Samad alleged that the bank’s branch manager told him that the problem emanated from the deactivation of his lost card but the bank failed to refund the questionable charges.

Another user, Emere Ogechi @EmereOgechi, a student, in a tweet explained 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 couldn’t withdraw, they kept on debiting me all through the weekend and by Monday only #3,900 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 @ifemayowa0771, stated: “So I use @ZenithBank and every month I am being charged close to #165 to #200 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.”

Asides ATM and card maintenance charges, several persons also protested other unnecessary bank charges.

Jemima Osunde @Jemima Osunde, on her part, called out Guarantee Trust Bank (GTB) on charges deducted over transactions made on the counter, while Olowookere Damilola, another user, complained about a N500 questionable deduction made on his account.

However, some of the banks in their reactions to the allegations directed the customers to forward them their details.

Wema Bank, replying a customer, said: “Hello @AgbedeAdekunleO, We are however curious about the experience that has left you feeling this way. Please send your complaint via DM along with your account details so we could fix it.”

Other banks like GTB, Access bank and Eco bank however did not respond to the allegations, despite being tagged in posts by customers.

PREMIUM TIMES’ efforts to get their reaction to the allegations also proved abortive Thursday.


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