The Senate on Wednesday passed a resolution calling on the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to suspend the ATM card maintenance charges being deducted from customers.
The lawmakers also called on commercial banks operating in the country to configure their ATM machines to dispense up to N40,000 per withdrawal.
The resolution by the red chamber was sequel to a motion on the illicit and excessive bank charges on customers accounts, sponsored by Senator Olugbenga Ashafa.
Senate President, Dr Bukola Saraki while speaking on the motion said, “This is a motion that affects the lives of every Nigerian — irrespective of what part of the country you come from or whatever political affiliation you might have. This is why we are here: to always defend and protect the interests of the Nigerian people.”
“This Senate has done this many times before; when there was a hike in the mobile telecommunication data charges, we intervened and put an end to that. When there were discrepancies and increases in electricity prices, we also took action. We have done this on a number of similar cases. Therefore, on this, I want us to take effective resolutions.”
Other Senators who contributed to the debate, called on banks to
review their charges.
“The common man is also a victim,” said Senator Emmanuel Bwacha, “Banks declare profits and you wonder where these profits are coming from— it’s from the sweat of the common man. Let us come up with a law that puts banks on their toes.”
“It won’t be out of place to institute a committee that will call on the CBN to tell us what these charges are about. The Senate by fiat should abolish charges if they can’t be verified,” said Senator Bala Ibn Na’Allah.
“The Senate must take a serious stand on this issue. Nigerians are really suffering. The banking system is not encouraging. I had an issue, took it to the bank and was refunded but how many Nigerians can do this? The issue needs to be addressed,” stated Senator Kabiru Gaya.
“For me, this is a major step that we are taking. This is because I introduced the first ATM machine that came into Nigeria over 25 years ago,” the Senate President, Dr Saraki told his colleagues, “Now, after 25 years, we should have grown out of these excessive charges and moved on. So, I believe that this something that we must address to create an environment that protects all Nigerians, because these kind of charges in this economy affects everyone.”
The Senate further directed its Committees on Banking, Insurance & other Financial Institutions and Finance to conduct an investigation into the propriety of ATM card maintenance charges in comparison with international best practices and report back to the Senate.
The Senate also directed the aforementioned committees to invited the Governor of the CBN to appear before it to explain why the official charges as approved by the CBN are skewed in favour of the banking institutions as against the ordinary customers of the banks.
Finally, the Senate called on the Consumer Protection Council to look into the various complaints of excess and unnecessary charges by Nigerian Banks.