The House of Representatives on Wednesday began the process to investigate the excess and illegal charges by Banks on accounts of both private and public customers, including that of the National Assembly.
The House consequently, mandated its Committee on Banking to liaise with professional financial consultants to investigate and determine the extent of excess charges on the House of Representatives accounts, other public institutions and individuals held in various banks to determine the extent of excess charges, if any, in the last Eight (8) years.
It also resolved that the House Committee on Banking should within four weeks report back to the House with recommendations for possible further legislative actions.
These resolutions were sequel to the adoption of a motion under matters of urgent public importance on: “Need to Investigate Excess and Illegal Charges by Banks on Public Institutions and Private Accounts by Various Banks in Nigeria”, sponsored by Yususf Gagdi (APC, Plateau).
Gagdi while presenting the motion argued that the role of banks and the banking sector, when properly managed and run in accordance with banking ethics while adhering to international best practices, arguably opens up the economy as it galvanises the critical factors of production for wealth creation, thereby making the banking sector very pivotal to development.
He said the House noted that as pivotal as the banking industry is to economic development, coupled with its tremendous growth in Nigeria over the years, supporting the Federal Government policy of ease of doing business, the experiences of individuals, public institutions and corporate customers of banks have been that of mixed feelings.
According to the lawmaker, the mixed feelings are formed by excess and illegal debits on accounts held by customers in the name of bank charges which have been very disturbing, as various charges ranging from ATM charges, account maintenance fee, card maintenance charges, SMS notification charges, token maintenance fees to stamp duty fees, amongst others, have been sources of worries to customers across the country.
Gagdi said the House further noted that although the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) had intervened on this issue on countless occasions, many of these illegal charges have continued unabated for a number of reasons which include but not limited to size of the amount, logistics and cost of following the matter through to conclusion since the banks are aware that customers are not likely going to abandon their jobs and businesses to chase after what is considered as insignificant amount of money.
He added that the House is: “aware that while the banking industry is supposed to be a catalyst for economic growth and wealth creation, lack of transparency in the industry has made an investment by local and foreign investors very unattractive due to the illegal dealings and meddling with depositors’ accounts by Nigerian banks.
“Saddened that the National Assembly, specifically the House of Representatives, and other government institutions and agencies saddled with the responsibility of regulating the industry and protecting the interests of the general public, being customers of these banks are also victims of these excess and illegal charges by their bankers.
“Worried that while we may choose to colour or dress the language used to qualify the action of these banks by merely referring to it as excess charges, the reality remains that it is an outright stealing of customers’ deposits by banks and every hand must be on deck by any affected customer including the House of Representatives to seek redress in one way or the other.
“Certain that the House of Representatives, being a public institution and one of the three Arms of Government accountable for the use of taxpayers’ money, prudence demands that the House commences an investigation of the activities of its accounts held in various banks to determine the extent of excess and illegal charges, if any, by its bankers with a view to recovering same in the interest of the House.”