A wave of protests is brewing in Nigeria’s banking industry as the Consumer Advocacy Foundation of Nigeria (CAFON) is calling Nigerians for a “No Banking Day” protest on March 1, when no customer is expected to transact any banking business to drive home their displeasure over excessive bank charges.
The foundation in a petition signed by its President, Sola Salako, and made available to Daily Sun, also accused the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) of not doing enough to stop banks from exploiting customers.
The protest comes as a fallout of over 10 identifiable charges associated with banking activities currently raising concerns among customers.
The charges, in no particular order, include the maintenance fees, which some banks are now charging monthly on current accounts and Value Added Tax (VAT) on virtually every transaction by customers, including SMS.
There are also charges for transfers both online and over the counter, remote-on-us (charges incurred for using other banks’ ATM in withdrawing money more than three times in a month) as well as the recently introduced stamp duties charge.
In the petition, however, Salako bemoaned the high level of exploitation, saying that bank customers, for many years, have been subjected to series of poor and unsatisfactory transaction and relationship terms.
The CAFON boss called on Nigerians to participate in the “No Banking Day” holding on March 1, 2016 when bank customers will shun all banking services to protest excessive bank charges.
The petition stated: “Dear Nigerian bank consumer, for many years now, consumers of banking services have been subjected to series of poor and unsatisfactory transaction and relationship terms.
“We have endured excessive charges, illegal fees and unfair contracts that only protect the bank but do not protect the consumers. Banks debit our accounts at will for charges we never agreed to or were not aware of; they charge us for every little service; we pay for getting our statements; introduction letters; and now, some banks are charging N200 for the use of deposit and transfer forms! “Under the current CBN management, abolished fees are being reintroduced.
“ATM withdrawals that were free now cost N65 on 3rd withdrawals. We pay N1,000 for debit card issuance and renewals; we pay N105 for every online transfer; and they still charge N105 as Annual Debit Card Maintenance and now, a new Stamp Duty charge of N50 on every credit of over N1,000 has just been introduced.
“COT that was supposed to end finally in 2016 is now being reintroduced as 1 per cent of every withdrawal purportedly as Monthly Current Account Maintenance Fees!
“This is unacceptable! The fact is, consumers are being exploited by all the banks and CBN is turning a blind eye to these exploitations. We cannot continue to endure these exploitations!”
“That is why Consumer Advocacy Foundation of Nigeria (CAFON), a consumer rights NGO, is calling consumers to join us in protest of banking exploitation by declaring Tuesday, March 1, 2016 as ‘No Banking Day!’
“Our Demands are: We want bank charges reviewed downwards; banks must clear fees with consumers before debiting our accounts; bank forms and contracts must be reviewed to include more protection for consumers; consumer complaints must be resolved promptly and satisfactorily; CBN must review the new Stamp Duty Charge, Account Maintenance Charge and Debit Card Maintenance Fees.
“We urge all consumers to boycott all banking services in protest of these excessive charges and policies. That means on Tuesday, March 1, don’t visit any bank or branches to transact any business; don’t use your ATM from 12a.m-12 midnight on March 1; don’t log in to any of your accounts online and don’t do any transfers from 12am-12 midnight; don’t make any online payments from 12am-12 midnight; don’t issue any cheques or banking instruments dated March 1, 2016.
“Avoid doing any financial transactions on March 1 but if you must, avoid the banks! We can all commit to observe a ‘No Banking Day’ protest to press home our demands. After all, if we don’t patronise them, they can’t be in business.
“Please sign this petition if you agree to join the protest and share with your friends and family until we have mass awareness so everyone can observe the ‘No Banking Day’ protest. It is not right, so let’s use our rights!”