In a bid to meet revenue projections, some Nigerian banks allegedly fleece their customers by deducting illegal charges and fees from their accounts
As a young graduate of Computer Science, Emmanuel Anaba was filled with ambition and dreams of how to be independent. Left to cater for himself at 19, he hoped for the best and prepared for the worst even as he squats with five of his friends in a room along Ekenna Avenue, Aba, Abia State. Though, after a stint as a mobile phone repairer, the 25-year-old secured a job in a computer-assembling firm in Aba. But elated as he was, Anaba understood early that his future lies solely on the sacrifices he could make at the early stage of his life; thus he chose to avoid some pleasures and save about 70 per cent of his income in one of the first generation banks. Such culture was supposed to guarantee him a self-contained apartment in Aba.
However, the poor orphan has drifted away from his goal, no thanks to his banker. The bank dashed his hope of securing an accommodation last April when it sent a text message to notify him that the sum of N20,000 has been deducted from his savings account for an insurance scheme the financial institution claimed he subscribed to earlier. “I was stunned to receive such alert because I never subscribed to any insurance scheme with any firm. Is it not someone that has money in abundance that would consider subscribing to insurance?” he inquired. Three months after, all efforts to have the illegal deduction reversed have not yielded any success. After several visits to his Aba/Owerri Road branch of the bank, the front desk officer told him, “We are sorry for the inconvenience, they are working on the reversal from our head office in Lagos. Please bear with us; it will soon be rectified.”
Anaba is not alone. Many bank customers across the country complain of illegal deductions by their banks on a regular basis. While some are able to get the illegal deductions reversed after registering their complaints, many others are not so lucky. Akinwole Omole, a depositor with a new generation bank, belongs to the former category as he was lucky to get an illegal deduction from his account reversed within six days. The bank had sent a short message service, SMS, alert notifying him of a N10,000 withdrawal from the automated teller machine, ATM, of another bank in Ikotun, Lagos, which he never made. According to him, he stormed his Ikeja, Lagos Plaza branch of the bank immediately and reported the illegal deduction to the branch manager who promised the deduction would be reversed within a week. “I intentionally restricted myself from making any withdrawal from the account for about six months because I needed to use the money to meet a particular need later in the year”, he said. Though his account has been credited, Omole is not convinced it was a mistake. “Whoever did that must have noticed that there was no transaction on the account for six months and thought the owner had died,” he said, adding that but for the SMS alert, he would not have known about the deduction.
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