By Favour Goodness
The South East Amalgamated Markets Traders Association (SEAMATA) has sent a Save Our Souls (SOS) to the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) over multiple and indiscriminate charges and deductions on customers by commercial banks.
SEAMATA is the umbrella association of traders in all the markets in the South East geo-political zone and traders of South East extraction doing business across the states of the Federation and in the Diaspora.
The association said this in an open letter addressed to the Governor of the CBN, Dr. Godwin Emefiele, on Monday.
The letter was jointly signed by the President-General of SEAMATA, Chief Gozie Akudolu and its Secretary, Mr Alex Okwudiri, respectively.
According to the statement, we are directed to formally bring to your notice the indiscriminate act of financial oppression which our members and all depositors and operators of bank accounts experience on a daily basis from commercial banks through indiscriminate charges and deductions.
It said that most of the transactions are the social responsibility of the banks, adding that the banks make deductions and charges for virtually every transaction ranging from deposits to even confirmation of signature.
The statement reads in part: “Part of the major responsibilities of the commercial banks, we know, is to accept money deposits from customers and keep safe custody of the same, and perform such other transactions for and as directed by the customer through various bank instruments.
“Most of the transactions, we also know, are the social responsibility of the banks. But today, the banks make deductions and charges for virtually every transaction ranging from deposits to even confirmation of signature.
“The cashless economy policy of the CBN has been of immense benefits to our members especially as it curtailed the barest minimum armed robbery attacks of our members, leading to loss of fortunes and even lives. However, today, nobody carries huge cash again on business trips.
“The commercial banks are turning themselves into becoming “sippers” to bank customers through the indiscriminate charges and deductions especially in on-line transactions.
“When a customer makes an on-line transfer of funds, the transferor is charged a certain amount of money deducted from his/her account and the recipient’s account is also charged and deductions made for receiving the money.
“In addition, charges and deductions are also made for sms, which most of the time were not received. Finally, at intervals, charges and deductions will be made on the same account as service charge.
“Sir, the banks are pressing our necks real hard and we are financially choking. Our members had individually approached the banks to complain but without success.
“Our only alternative is to bring our plight and indeed, the plight of all bank customers to your knowledge and most humbly and respectfully appeal that you prevail on the banks to please have compassion on the customers and stop forthwith, the indiscriminate charges and deductions and if possible, refund all the deductions.
“The association has decided to go through your office for the resolution of this matter instead of besieging the bank offices with protesters which is far from what our nation needs now”.
The statement said that the association strongly believes in CBN’s ability, strong commitment and will-power in the successful resolution of this matter once the apex bank wades into it.
“We are directed by this association to bring to you (Emefiele) the warm regards of her esteemed members and commend your good works in the proper management of the nation’s monetary policy and regulation of the operations of the commercial banks in the country”, it added.