CIBN decries rising cyber-attacks on Nigerian banks

...tasks judges to embrace innovation for improved delivery in the sector

The Chartered Institute of Bankers of Nigeria (CIBN) on Tuesday decried rising cyber-fraud and cyber-attacks on banks and other financial institutions in the country, which it fears could undermine huge gains made in the industry.

The CIBN blamed the “rising trend” on the fast- paced innovation in the banking industry which has posed some challenges, despite creating needed efficiency in the sector.

Speaking at the 21st National Seminar on Banking and Allied Matters for judges holding in Abuja, Bayo Olugbemi, President/Chairman of CIBN Council said the judicial officers especially of the superior courts and regulatory authorities must now pay close attention and intervene in this rising trend of cyber-attacks and other challenges posed by innovation.

“It is not unknown, even in Nigeria, for cyber criminals to “seize” websites and portals owned by financial institutions and demand for ransom to be paid in order to release these sites or to refrain from releasing confidential and proprietary information of banks and their customers if monetary demands of these attackers are not met,” he lamented.

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He further decried that creditors are getting more and more “innovative” in their attempts to evade legitimate legal obligations. He said, “It is not surprising that the tendency to evade legal responsibilities which borrowers have freely entered into by taking loans sourced from depositors’ funds have continued unabated. What is perhaps surprising is the continued abuse of court processes by some of these delinquent customers to aid their unwholesome objectives. ”

“Aside from the well-known strategy to frustrate debt recovery efforts by employing different tactics to delay court proceedings, there are now new efforts to convert loans ostensibly obtained for business purposes into foreign currency and export them to other countries where it is thought that the so-called “long arm of the law” cannot reach.

“To further compound the situation, such recalcitrant debtors now argue disingenuously before the courts and sometime in petitions to the Consumer Protection Department of the Central Bank of Nigeria, that legitimate legal efforts to recover these funds from the jurisdictions where they have been exported amounts to abuse of due process and “dollarization of the Nigerian economy,” he further said.

Olugbemi disclosed that the recurring issues of abuse of procedures relating to garnishee proceedings and enforcement of lenders’ rights in secured credit transactions continue to be of concern to the industry and continue to impede the release of additional credit to the economy which would have helped to accelerate recovery from the downturn caused by the Coronavirus pandemic.

The president therefore stressed the need to deepen the understanding of judicial officers and other stakeholders on the fast- paced innovation in the banking sector to ensure efficient administration of justice.

According to him, the theme of this year’s event “Strengthening The Quality of Judicial Systems and Banking Operations Through Innovation” is very topical.

Godwin Emiefele, Governor of yeh Central Bank of Nigeria, noted that the expansion of banking and financial services business to digital platforms, as opposed to the conventional forms has now made it more imperative for judges to be tech savvy, to enhance the quality of justice delivery generally and specifically in the financial services sector.

According to the CBN governor who was represented by Kofo Slam-Alada, Director, Legal Services Department (CBN), a demonstration of deep understanding of electronic/digital payment systems by judges will give comfort to foreign investors knowing that there will be certainty in dispute resolution, should the need arise.

Emiefele stressed that innovation and technology has imposed the need for learning and relearning as justice delivery has become increasingly automated.

“The speed and effectiveness of a country’s justice delivery system has been acknowledged to be a crucial factor in attracting foreign investments, which are capable of improving accretion to the nation’s external reserve usable for the maintenance of the value of the domestic currency, hence the need to embrace innovation and technology by all,” he added.

Salisu Abdullahi, Administrator of the National Judicial Institute (NJI) expressed optimism that the seminar will equip judges to deal with complex contemporary financial disputes and develop core competence in banking matters.

He said the seminar is key following the recent development in the banking sector particularly the amendment of the BOFIA Act 2020 among others, adding that participants will be enlightened on the challenges arising from disputes involving depositors’ funds and sundry baking transactions.

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