#NoBankingDay: Customers boycott banks today over arbitrary charges

Thousands of bank customers across the country are expected to boycott banking services on Tuesday (today) to express their grievances against alleged “arbitrary, illegal and excessive charges” by the Deposit Money Banks.

The Consumer Advocacy Foundation of Nigeria (CAFON), a non-profit-making organisation, had a few weeks ago, declared March 1 a No Banking Day to protest the continued imposition of alleged arbitrary charges on bank customers.

CAFON said its members has mobilised bank customers across the country to boycott banking services for 24 hours.

The campaign is meant to force banks to stop the regime of arbitrary charges imposed on their customers.

While there are no planned rallies or gatherings, customers are advised to avoid all banking halls, transactions, ATMs and online”.

Organisers says the aim is to show the banks that if customers don’t patronise their services, they cannot charge excessively.

A statement by CAFON President, Sola Salako, reads in parts: “Though the timing and resources for creating awareness for a national consumer action was limited, we were amazed by the zeal, support, and dogged determination of thousands of Nigerian consumers who have taken the simple suggestion of a fellow consumer, Mr Dipo Adedoyin, and made it into a consumer movement that has attracted national, regional and international media coverage.

“Most importantly, we owe today to the individual consumers who owned the campaign because they could identify with the cause, being daily perplexed by the unexplainable charges banks deduct from their accounts with obvious impunity.

“As you chose to make the sacrifice of a #NoBankingDay today so Nigerians can have ‪#‎BetterBankingServices in the future, you can rest assured that your sacrifice, no matter how small, could be the catalyst for a safer, fairer and more just consumer sensitive environment.

“No matter the number of consumers who resolve to or not to abstain from banking services today, YOU can proudly say, you took action to improve Nigeria; you stood up to be counted; you said “Enough is Enough”! You are the living example and fulfilment of the first two lines of our National Anthem “Arise O Compatriots, Nigeria’s call obey”!

“Whatever the outcome of today’s boycott, the #NoBankingDay Movement is already a success. We succeeded in drawing global attention to the problem of excessive charges and poor service delivery in our banking industry; we succeeded in making these excesses a topical national issue; we succeeded in waking up the latent consumer power within us; we succeeded in galvanizing each other towards fighting for our rights; we succeeded in coming to the realization that Nigerian consumers deserve better!”

Meanwhile, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) on Monday reiterated its earlier stance to protect bank customers against excessive charges by commercial banks.

It said in a statement that customers, who have genuine complaints about arbitrary charges, should forward same to the Consumer Protection Department of the apex bank.

The CBN was reacting to threats by CAFON to boycott banking services owing to perceived arbitrary charges by commercial banks.

The apex bank in the statement said while the banking sector had witnessed radical reforms in recent years which had assisted in driving the Vision 20: 2020 programme, it would not allow the imposition of excessive charges on bank customers.

The statement read in part, “The CBN rolled out the cashless policy with a number of options in the electronic payment systems, including the mobile banking.

“To achieve this, the CBN had enlisted electronic and telecom service providers to ensure convenience and safety.

“In addition, the CBN also set up the Consumer Protection Debarment saddled with the responsibility of ensuring that bank customers are not unduly short-changed by the commercial banks.

“It is equally expected that while the regulators are doing their own bit, bank customers must not only insist, but persist in demanding that their respective banks give them good service and at affordable charges.

“Nigerians should note that the bank-customer relationship is personal and contractual and should seek for redress when short-changed.”

In order to ensure a mutual and beneficial bank-customer relationship, the statement said the CBN had issued guidelines on bank charges, which it said had been widely circulated.

The guidelines, it stated, would ensure standards as well as assist bank customers make informed decisions regarding any unjust charges.

The CBN stressed, “It therefore remains the obligation of the bank customers to ensure that they are not short-changed, no matter how small.

“In the event that customers failed to stop their banks from cheating them, the CBN had again gone further to provide contact centre with telephone lines, email address to enable customers to lodge their complaints with its Consumer Protection Department.”

The statement recalled that the CBN had investigated about 6,000 compliance cases which led to the recovery of about N6.2bn from the DMBs as excessive charges imposed on their customers in 2015.

The statement added, “While the CBN should continue to ensure that all parties in financial transactions are adequately compensated and protected, it is only fair that the Consumer Advocacy Foundation of Nigeria in organising the planned protest take cognisance of value creation by the enablers of today’s convenient financial transactions process.

“They should also get involved in encouraging Nigerians to take complaints that are related to wrongful bank charges to the appropriate quarters.”