…Are you ready to boycott banks on Tuesday March 1?
Come Tuesday, March 1, 2016, a non-governmental association, NGO, Consumer Advocacy Foundation of Nigeria (CAFON) and Coalition of Nigerian Consumer Protection Association have asked Nigerians, especially bank users to boycott banking activities as the day has been declared as ‘No Banking Day’.
According to the CAFON President, Sola Salako, the group wants Nigerians to boycott the banks on that day in protest against alleged arbitrary charges imposed on customers by the financial institutions.
Some of the practices mentioned by CAFON, which necessitated the action against banks excessive charges, unexplainable fees and unfair contracts designed to protect the financial institutions to the detriment of the banking public.
Others are indiscriminate debiting of customers’ accounts for charges that are arbitrary and unilateral changes in interest rates by banks, and this without prior notice to the consumers.
This is coming weeks after the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) imposed N50 on customers as compulsory stamp duty on deposits of N1,000 and above. The charge, however, is collected on behalf of NIPOST and the Federal Government and it goes to the Federation Account.
Only last week, the CBN said it got banks across the country to return excess charges, estimated at N6.2billion, to customers.
Joining his own voice to the protest, the National President, Constance Shareholders Association of Nigeria (CSAN), Mr Shehu Mikail, on Monday urged all bank users to join ‘No Banking Day’ protest on March 1.
Mikail, who made the plea in an interview in Lagos, said that the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) had directed all commercial banks to charge customers N50 on deposits from N1, 000 and above, as part of Nigeria’s stamp duties law on financial transactions.
“Apart from the above, there are other silent charges administered by Nigerian banks’’ he said.
He said there was need to alert the Federal Government on these excessive charges by Nigerians banks.
Mikail suggested that government should come up with a good economic blue print on how to restructure the economy.
He described the charges as another way of imposing extra tax on the masses, adding that the policy would discourage people from banking.
Mikail said that at present, “Nigeria is largely under-banked especially in rural areas’’.
“So, this type of policy will worsen the situation; in particular for traders doing business in the rural areas.
“It will have negative effects on the cashless monetary policy that is already in place as it is also another way of imposing extra tax on the masses.
“It would discourage people from keeping money in the banks as Nigeria is largely under-banked, especially the rural areas.
‘So, this type of policy will worsen the situation, in particular for traders doing business in the rural areas.
“It will have negative effect on the cashless monetary policy that is already in place.
“The CBN should jettison this method of taxation and come up with a monetary policy that will strengthen the naira to grow the economy, instead of putting another tax burden on the people.
He said that in order to put the CBN and banks on the right track, I plead with all banks users not to carry out any banking transactions on March 1.
“All bank users should not visit banks to transact any business; we should not use our ATM from 12 am to 12 midnight on March 1.
“There should not be any online payment and issuance of any cheque or banking instrument on March 1.
`‘All bank users must avoid any financial transactions on March 1 and if you must, avoid banks.
However, just few hours to the March 1 protest, though many Nigerians have shown their support towards the initiative, especially on social media, like Facebook, and twitter, indications have emerged that many Nigerians might ignore the directive and still go ahead with their banking activities.
According to investigations carried out by DailyBells Nigeria, asking Nigerians to boycott banking activities might not be successful as many customers cannot afford not to make use of the bank for a day as a result of the nature of their businesses.
For instance, many FirstBank customers still recount the disappointment, losses and hardship they experienced over the weekend when for Friday and Saturday they couldn’t gain access to their money either through the ATM or over the counters as a result of servers which were said to be down.
Speaking with DailyBells Nigeria on Monday, a customer who simply gave his name as Johnson said, “Impossible” as he walked away.
Another respondent, Blessing Adetoye said, “Good idea but how many people are aware of this? I am hearing of this for the first time. Sadly, this may not be achievable due to the nature of some people’s businesses. They need to make daily deposits in banks to avoid being robbed of their earnings.”
For Wale, a student, he submitted, “I have been boycotting bank since January, Why? I don’t have money in my account.
Also, Bunmi Awodele said, “Though the points they are making really make sense but I believe come Tuesday, after your business, just keep your cash at home or in your shop at your own peril.
“Most business men depend on banks for their business to grow! So don’t go there!” she said.
Meanwhile, John Akinwale in his own submission said, Nigerians are not Like Egyptians or the Arabs that mean what they say. In 9ja, don’t be surprised that the person that will organize the boycott will go behind and use d banks…Just watch and see.”
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