The Central Bank of Nigeria has said that it has recovered over N51.9bn illegally deducted by commercial banks and returned it to the customers.
The CBN stated that the amount was illegally removed from the accounts of bank customers across the country in the past five years.
The Acting Director, Corporate Communications, CBN, Mr. Isaac Okorafor, disclosed this in Port Harcourt during an interactive session with stakeholders, including labour union leaders, in the South-South zone.
Okoroafor stated that the recovery and return of the funds to customers became necessary after series of complaints on illegal deductions from their accounts by commercial bank customers got to the apex bank.
Putting the exact amount recovered and returned by the CBN Consumer Protection Department at N51,913,350,828.85, he explained that $18,191,444.19, €26.286,62 and £6,000 were also recovered within the period.
Okorafor, who was represented by an assistant director in the apex bank, John Attah, recalled that the CBN received 10,548 complaints, adding that the amounts recovered were from 5,746 resolved cases.
He stated, “When such complaints are received, the CBN will embark on a thorough investigation of what happened and how the deductions were made. If we discover that the bank was wrong, we will write and order the bank to return the money to the customer’s account.
“We do not keep this kind of money in any special account. Someone owns it and the banks know the accounts from where they made the deductions. So, we mandate them to pay it back into the accounts.”
He, however, expressed the apex bank’s continued commitment to customers’ protection, adding that the interactive session was aimed at educating stakeholders, particularly labour unions, on some of the financial policy drives of the CBN.
Okorafor stated that such financial initiatives were targeted at closing the gaps in the economy to foster development and safety of citizens.
On the Bank Verification Number, the acting director explained that the initiative was brought into the banking system to solve the challenges of customer identification based on finger prints.
“People use different names to open different accounts for different reasons and purposes; but with the help of the BVN, we should be able to know who is operating what account irrespective of the name. This has made criminals and fraudsters, who are operating secret accounts, to abandon their accounts in order not to be caught,” he stated.
The Vice President, Industrial Global Union, Mr. Issa Aremu, expressed gratitude to the CBN Governor, Mr. Godwin Emefiele, for interfacing with labour unions on financial literacy since the past three years.