Spurious charges by Nigerian banks are illegal, call for redress

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By Obinna Agommuo

 

This is one injustice that we in ESGADIA and well meaning Nigerians must fight to ensure the Apex bank look into it and stop this fraud on Nigerians by the Commercial Banks.

Let me say here with all sense of responsibility and without any fear of intimidation and contradiction that Nigerians are defrauded by the day, even the elites are not exempted as they remain the soft targets by these Banks. The banks capitalize on the fact that Nigerians are “too busy” to run checks on their Bank accounts or activity reports to pin down certain spurious charges levied against them by the Commercial banks.

I have had two or more experiences in the past with the banks and when I sued, they refused to enter appearance in the Court but rather my account was credited with amounts discovered to be specious by my Forensic auditor. These are monies that were charged to my company account from first month of opening the account. These monies the banks deduct in the name of management fee from your accounts when you are not running any facility or loan with the bank is illegal and most Nigerians don’t know this.

Best thing to do is to call for your statement of account from the account opening date to current date, give it to a Forensic Auditor and you will be shocked how much money you have lost to your bank.

When an account is regarded as “a very good account” by your banker, you better watch it.

Even when they give you offers for loans at certain interest rates, sometimes they apply rates higher than what’s on your offer letter. One of the Commercial Banks, Zenith Bank did it to me in 2008 for a Credit facility they granted my company in November, 2007 to export raw materials to China at 25% interest rate per annum but instead they applied 45% interest rate per annum from day one of the Facility approval throwing my account into debit at the end of the transaction, for a transaction I was supposed to make profit. I immediately demanded for my activity report (Bank Statement) from the date of the account opening and alas the bank had been defrauding my company from day one of account opening with the Bank through charges of management fees and other unwarranted charges on my account. I wrote to the bank severally and in their usual manner, did not respond until I directed my lawyer to sue the bank to court, but rather than enter appearance in the Law court, they credited my account twice, firstly with over Nine Million Naira and another with over Six million Naira representing the illegal charges on my account from the first day of account opening with the Bank. My Bank manager then pleaded for me to withdraw the case from court as my further press on the case will cause him and other managers their jobs, I thought of our relationships and dropped the case since they had done the needful. These things do happen every now and then but Nigerians are “too busy” to check so the banks declare huge profits after tax at the end of the year at the expense of their customers. Why won’t the banks declare huge profits while Businesses are closing shops when for every online payment or transfer you make, the banks charge you between 52 Naira to 110 Naira including withdrawals from Automatic Cash Machines (ATMs). Do the banks pay you for the data you use in making online payments and transfers, what legal right do they have to levy such spurious charges on their customers? Is it not enough that your money is used to build their capital base? Nigerians should ask questions.

Therefore my advise to Nigerians is, they should call for their statements of Accounts, give them to Forensic Auditors to run through and be sure they are not been charged some illegal fees especially when they are said to be operating “Trading Accounts” or “Very good Accounts”. Where spurious charges are applied to your accounts, get “debit advice” from the bank and thereafter demand for a refund.

The CBN must look into these fraudulent acts by the commercial banks and cause them to make refunds to Nigerians, the monumental loss they incurred through fraudulent charges to their bank accounts by the Commercial Banks should not be undermined.

May God help Nigeria.

Long live ESGADIA

Long live the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

 

Obinna Agommuo is the Founder, Economic Strategic Growth And Development Initiative of Africa (ESGADIA)

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