Why Nigerians won’t transact business with their Banks on March 1ST – CAFON

Sola Salako, Founder, CAFON

During a World Press
Conference which held at Renneissance Hotel, Ikeja, Lagos-South West Nigeria on
Monday February 15 (Yesterday), Consummer Advocacy of Nigeria (CAFON)
under the leadership of Consumer Advocate Extra-ordinarie, Sola Salako
presented some of the delibitating issues affecting relationship between
industry operators in the Nigerian banking sector and millions of consummers
who are daily cheated through unhealthy bank malpractices and under abhorrent
conditions that has tilted growth in favor of practioners at the peril of
consummers. 

A communique jointly signed
by a conglomerate of Nigerian Consumer advocate bodies like
Consumer Awareness
Organisation
(CAO), Consumers
Empowerment Organisation of Nigeria
(CEON),  and United Consumers Association
(UCAN) among others agreed that on Monday March 1st , 2016 millions
of Nigerians across the breadth and length of the country should declare a one
day off banking activity protest titled “No-Banking
Day”.

The communique which was obtained by your Africa’s
number 1 Celebrity Encounter blog Asabeafrika
is hereby published. Find out issues that makes Nigerian banks so corrupt and
insensitive to the plights of millions of consummers and form your opinion.
Enjoy!
Opening by
Sola Salako, CEO, CAFON
Ladies and
Gentlemen of the Press,
Good morning.
On behalf of Consumer Advocacy Foundation of Nigeria CAFON and Market Ombudsman
with active collaboration with the Coalition of Nigerian Consumer Protection
Associations (CONCA) consisting of CAFON, CEON, CRP, CAO, UCAN, FODCOR,
NATCOMMS, CRADO, and millions of aggrieved consumers who are the organizers,
promoters and mobilizers of this protest, I thank you for honoring our
invitation to this Press Conference.
Nigerian
Banks & Her Cheating Track Record….
For many
years now, consumers of banking services have been subjected to series of
unsatisfactory services, transactions and contractual terms. We have endured
excessive charges, unexplainable fees and unfair contracts that only protect
the banks but do not protect the consumers. Banks debit consumers’ accounts at
will for charges we never agreed to or were not aware of; they charge us for
EVERYTHING; we pay to get our statements; introduction letters; debit cards,
and now, some banks are charging N210 for the use of deposit and transfer forms
in their branches! 
We have been
victims of management and regulatory lapses resulting in many consumers losing
their deposits in the banking crisis of the last two decades. Thousands of
consumers have been victims of ATM fraud because the banking industry failed in
its duty of care to educate and inform consumers of the inherent dangers in
Online Banking at commencement.
Some
consumers are still unable to access their deposits due to botched BVN
registrations because the banks did not take time to properly educate consumers
on the process before implementation. 

Sola Salako…’Nigerian Banks are only in business to dupe consummers’

Evil of Multiple
Charges & Regime of Confussion @ CBN
CBN, the apex
bank responsible for regulating the sector as well as protecting the consumer
from exploitation is constantly changing policies without notice. Under the
current CBN management, abolished fees are being reintroduced e.g. ATM
withdrawals that was free 2 years ago, now cost N65 on 3rd withdrawals (many
banks  even start charging from the first withdrawal!).

Advert
We pay N1000 (One Thousand Naira) for debit
card issuance and renewals (this has just been increased by between N200-500 by
some banks without any form of notice though it is free in many countries) and
then there is an Annual Debit Card Maintenance Fee of N100 (One hundred Naira). 
Consumers
really want to know how banks ‘maintain’ debit cards already issued to
them? 
Even
consumers who did not request for, or have never collected debit cards from
some banks, are charged all these fees. On services they never used?
We pay N105
(Plus aditional N5) for every online transfer yet those same transactions were
subjected to COT up until January 2016. Just when we were going to start
enjoying zero fees on current accounts, CBN reintroduces COT under a new guise
as “Monthly Account Maintenance Charge of N1. This charge was levied by default
on ALL consumers without the chance to negotiate according to CBN directive.
Why must consumers pay double charges on every transaction?
Bankers or Robbers?
Contrary to
global understanding of the fact that a Savings
Account
is usually a no-fee account, banks in Nigeria now deduct various
fees from consumer savings accounts!  How will consumers be encouraged to
save money with the banks?
A new Stamp
Duty
charge of N50 on every credit of over N1000 (One Thousand Naira)
has just been introduced. While we recognize the need for the FG to raise IGR
in view of the current economic realities of our nation,  there are legal
issues on the validity of this levy of N50 by Nigerian banks.   On our
part, we question the fairness of a flat levy of N50 on deposits of N1000 (One
Thousand Naira) or more. A student who receives an allowance of N2000 (Two
Thousand Naira) pays the same amount as a rich man who receives a deposit of
N10m!  (Ten  Million Naira) So the student is technically
paying more taxes than the rich man. That is inequitable and unfair; thus
requires an immediate review. 
       
 These
incessant multiple charges are even more prevalent on loan accounts while
 many banks have also taken advantage of CBN’s fluctuating Forex policy to
charge consumers exchange rates that far exceeds CBN rates without even
notifying the consumers of the rates BEFORE the transaction. 
It is more
frustrating because these same banks are doing little to support consumers and
small businesses or SMEs by providing access to funds to help start ups
businesses and expansion of such busineses. But they seem to have perfected the
process of garnishing those hard earned monies deposited with them as charges
for questionable services.
These and
many more issues amount to excessive charges, unfair trade practices or clear
exploitation thus creating additional burden on the consumer who is already
groaning under a struggling economy. 
Consumers’ Rights & CBN’s
419 tactics
 
It is also
disheartening that CBN, that should be protecting consumers from undue
exploitation, appears to be more sympathetic to the banks at the detriment of
the vulnerable consumers, in view of its recent policies on bank charges.
Consumers therefore, have no other choice but to insist on our rights which
include but are not limited to: 
1. The
right to choose
 – it appears that the banking sector is operating
a price fixing cartel called the Bankers
Committee
superintended by the CBN where they determine how much to charge
for what! When consumers challenge any questionable fees, the banks are quick
to say it is as approved by CBN! Whose interest should CBN be protecting, the
banks making profit or the consumers trying to make a living? How can consumers
choose between banks when prices are already fixed by regulator’s fiat? 
2. The
right to fair and equitable fees 
– while we recognize that banks
have the right to get paid for services rendered, such fees must be verifiable,
fair and commensurate to services provided. Multiple charges for a single
transaction, excessive charges of a percentage of transaction volume and
unexplained arbitrary deductions from consumer’s accounts are neither fair nor
equitable.
3.  The
right to detailed and adequate information about services, charges and fees
BEFORE they are applied
 – every commercial contract presumes the
consent of two or more parties to clearly stated terms, charges and conditions
but this is not the case in banking transactions in Nigeria.  
The consumer
rarely gets adequate information about terms, conditions or the bouquet of
charges associated with particular services until AFTER the fact! Rather, the
bank hides under a blanket legal clause included in fine print on its
contracts, by which they get unfettered access to consumer funds to deduct any
and all fees the bank deems is owed to it, irrespective of whether the charges
are known, consented to or are disputed by the consumer. That is a gross breach
of trust. 
4.  The
right to effective redress when dissatisfied with the service or charges
on any transaction
 – consumers want their complaints resolved
promptly, satisfactorily and responsibly but the banks do not seem to have made
adequate provision to address  this. Many times, the process of redress is
deliberately tedious, stressful and unproductive so consumer complaints are
unresolved for months or years until the consumer abandons the issue. 
The Cause
& Call for 1316
In view of
the aforementioned, as well as a myriad of consumer complaints we receive daily
from frustrated and angry customers who feel cheated, disrespected, exploited
and helpless because there are no clear structures for genuine resolution of
their complaints, our organizations have had no choice but to call on all
consumers to commence a series of consumer resistance actions against ALL banks
starting with the  passive protest on  Tuesday March 1st,
2016 tagged #NoBankingDay.
What is
#NoBankingDay?
#NoBankingDay is a passive,
nationwide consumer action whereby aggrieved consumers avoid ALL banking
services on March 1st in protest against Excessive Bank
Charges. 
On March
1st 2016
, consumers should abide by the following:
·      .Don’t
visit any banking hall 
·       Don’t
use your ATM cards.
·       Don’t
log in to any online banking 
·       Don’t
 transfer any money from your phones, tablets, or laptops.
·       Don’t
make any POS or online payments. 
·       Don’t
issue or present any cheques dated 01 March, 2016.
·       Avoid
doing any banking transactions on 01 March 2016 as much as
possible 
Why
#NoBankingDay? 
To remind the
banks that they are in business because we patronize them therefore, we deserve
good, fair and equitable services and charges.
To deny all
banks the income they would have made from the excessive, multiple and
sometimes questionable charges they deduct from consumer accounts for JUST ONE
DAY! After all, If consumers don’t do any transactions, then they cannot charge
any fees. 
Who can
participate?
All consumers
of banking services in Nigeria who believe they deserve better,
 especially those affected by multiple bank charges. 
Will it
disrupt individual plans? 
Not if you
plan adequately. Most consumers don’t go to the bank every day so we can all
make a deliberate decision to make March 1st one of those
“no banking days”. Consumers can do all transactions, on
February 29th or postpone it to March 2nd 2016.
Since it is just for 24 hours, there is no need to keep excess cash at home for
security reasons. 
What if
CBN/Banks don’t respond? 
The #NoBankingDay Protest
is not a Dash; it is a Marathon. We have absolute faith in the efficacy of
Collective Consumer Power to influence policy, correct erring service providers
and restore the balance of justice and equity in the marketplace. The Change we
all seek only happens when majority of consumers rise up to make their voices
heard. This protest is the voice of the Nigerian consumer saying Enough
is Enough!
to excessive charges in the banking sector. We are
optimistic that the necessary authorities will respond to the voice of their
consumers. 
A Letter of
Protest will be sent to the CBN Governor after the Town Hall Meeting on
#NoBankingDay on our demands. We are also actively soliciting for the support
and participation of more civil society organizations, labour groups, student
unions, organized private sector and trade unions to join this protest as the
issue of excessive bank charges affect everyone.
This action
is thus the first in a series of Consumer
Resistance Actions
planned to press home to the CBN and Banking
Institutions that we are serious and dedicated to achieving our demands; top of
which is for a review and curb of the excesses in the sector. 
Our Demands 
We want the CBN and Banks to: 
1) Review all
charges to ensure they are justifiable, clear and communicated to consumers.
Banks must state ALL fees and charges payable BEFORE every service. Fees not
stated must not be chargeable.
2) Eliminate
ALL multiple charges e.g. Online transactions should not attract both N105
(Plus N5) and N1/Mille. That is multiple charging. 
3) Include
better protection for consumers in the forms, contracts and documents consumers
sign. Generic clauses that give banks unlimited access to consumer funds
without further consent should be abolished. 
4) Review the
Stamp Duty levy to be more equitable and just. A deposit transaction of N1000
attracts the same duty of N50 as a transaction of N100,000,000. The poor is
paying more in ratio than the rich. 
5) Revert to
the original plan of 2016 zero COT policy on current accounts and  cancel
fees on debit card ‘maintenance’.
6) Create a
platform for regular dialogue with consumers to provide an opportunity to negotiate
terms and conditions of contracts and services. Consumers should be included in
the policy deliberations of the CBN and banks to ensure better consumer
friendly decisions.
 No Act or Intent at
Sabotage
Let us place
on record that the #NoBankingDay protest has NO sinister
political, social or economic agenda. It is purely a consumer pressure activity seeking balance in the ecosystem of the
banking industry to relieve consumers of unfair charges. 
How can
Consumers support #NoBankingDay?      
 
To show
support and help create maximum awareness, we encourage consumers to
– Start the
conversation. Talk to family and friends to join the protest.
– Call in to
Radio and TV programmes to raise the issue of excessive bank charges and talk
about #NoBankingDay
– Visit www.nobankingday.com 
– Sign the
petition online at this link 
– Go to
Consumer Advocacy Foundation of Nigeria CAFON on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter
 Conclusion 
Ladies and
Gentlemen of the Press, we seek your support for a worthy cause that impacts
the lives of every Nigerian directly or indirectly. An equitable, supportive
and trustworthy banking system is what our country needs to facilitate the
economic growth we need in this trying times. Our banking industry cannot
continue to erode consumer confidence for the sake of declaring profits which
are not reflective of the level of productivity in the economy.
In view of
these issues, many consumers have started to conduct their business
transactions sans the banking system. This is not good for an economy that is
still trying to deal with a significant percentage of unbanked citizens.
 The banking industry must not be the ONLY profitable sector simply because
it has access to the hard earned funds of the other sectors. It must add
value. 
 In 2015
alone, Estimated Total banks profit after tax is N878.67billion while total assets hits N47.17trillion, according to Businessday
Banking Sector Outlook
published 12/2/16. We must ask the question
“How much of these profits did they make from excessive and multiple
charges daily?” 
Must banks
fleece millions of Nigerians in order to declare profits for less than 5% of us
who are shareholders? 
How are the
banks contributing to the real sector? How have they helped Nigerian
Entrepreneurs to be productive? 
Huge sector
profits are welcome as long as it is earned legitimately. But when a sector’s
 “earnings” consist of multiple charges for one service, or
unauthorized deduction from customer funds just because it have access to it,
that is abuse of trust! 
It’s time for
consumers to say NO to excessive bank charges! Join our consumer
protest….#NoBankingDay on Tuesday March 1st 2016.

Thank you for listening 
Sola Salako
(Ms) 
Market
Ombusdman
Consumer
Awareness Organisation (CAO)
Plot 1123,
ECA Moneke Crescent,
Corridor
Layout, Opposite Maryland Estate, Enugu
Foundation
for Defence of Consumer Rights (FODCOR)
Royal
Shopping Mall, Suite 202, No.64 First-East Circular Road, Benin City, Edo
State
Consumers
Empowerment Organisation of Nigeria (CEON)
97,
Ondo-Benin Road, Ijebu-Ode, Ogun State
Consumer
Advocacy Foundation of Nigeria (CAFON)
 29B,
Olorunnimbe Street, WEMABOD Estate, 
offAdeniyi
Jones, Ikeja, Lagos 
United
Consumers Association (UCAN)
104, Oloto
Ring Road, Oto-Ijanikin, Lagos
Consumer
Campaign Foundation (CCF)
16, Dipeolu
Street, Ikeja, Lagos
Consumer
Rights Project (CRP)
15, Osolo
Way, Ajao Estate, Lagos

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