By EricJames Ochigbo
Abuja – The House of Representatives has mandated its committee on banking to investigate and determine the extent of alleged excess charges on public institutions and individuals accounts held in various banks.
This was sequel to a unanimous adoption of a motion by Rep. Yusuf Gagdi (APC-Plateau) at the plenary on Wednesday.
The committee would also liaise with financial consultants to investigate charges in the last eight years with the view to recover same in the interest of customers.
Gagdi said that when properly managed and run in accordance with banking ethics, the banking sector would open up the economy as it galvanises the critical factors of production and wealth creation.
He said where international best practices are applied in banking, the sector becomes very pivotal to economic growth and national development.
The lawmaker said as pivotal as the banking industry was to economic development, the experiences of individuals, public institutions and corporate customers of banks have been that of mixed feelings.
He alleged that excess and illegal debits on accounts held by customers in the name of bank charges have been very disturbing.
Gagdi said that charges ranging from ATM charges, account maintenance fee, card maintenance charges, SMS notification charges, among others, have been a source of worry to customers across the country.
He said that although the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) had intervened on many occasions, many of these illegal charges continued unabated for a number of reasons.
“This includes 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 to abandon their jobs and businesses to pursue such cases,“he said.
He said that the banking industry was supposed to be a catalyst for economic growth and wealth creation but lack of transparency in the industry has made investment by local and foreign investors very unattractive.
“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,” he said.
The committee is expected to report back to the house in four weeks for further legislative actions.