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Nigerians say No to high charges, shun banks today

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• CBN okays action seeks understanding
• Foreign reserves drop further, naira steadies at N325 per dollar

NIGERIANS are boycotting banking activities today to protest against what they termed exorbitant deductions by banks, among other reasons.

A not-for-profit group, Consumer Advocacy Foundation of Nigeria (CAFON), dedicated to advocacy for consumer rights and protection is leading the protest.

Led by Sola Salako, CAFON and the Coalition of Nigerian Consumer Protection Associations have designated March 1, 2016, as a “No Banking Day”, calling on banks’ customers to boycott all forms of banking activities and banks.

According to Salako, the #NoBankingDay is aimed at persuading Nigerian banks to review their charges downwards. The group is also calling for a review of bank forms and contracts to include more protection for consumers and for consumer complaints to be resolved promptly and satisfactorily.

Other demands are that banks must clear fees with consumers before debiting their accounts and that CBN must review the new Stamp Duty Charge, Account Maintenance Charge and Debit Card Maintenance Fees.

However, The Guardian in a chat with some members of the public learnt that the protest is beset with low awareness.

Apex bank, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) said that while the regulators are doing their own bit, bank customers must not only insist, but demanding that their respective banks give them good service and at affordable charges.

According to the CBN, it should equally be noted that bank-customer relationship is personal and contractual and should seek for redress when shortchanged.

“It therefore, remains the obligation of the bank customers to ensure that they are not short-changed, no matter how small. In the event customers failed to stop their banks from cheating them, the CBN had again went further to provide contact centre with telephone lines, email address to enable customers lodge their complaints with its Consumer Protection Department (CPD),” CBN said in a statement.

It however, pointed out that the various service providers who invested in different electronic and telecommunications platforms, which enabled safe and convenient financial transactions for bank customers should be entitled to equitable compensations as a reward for their services.

Meanwhile, the nation’s foreign exchange reserves has fallen to $27.8 billion as the CBN steps up its fight in the defense of the local unit.

Besides, the exchange rate yesterday steadied at N325 to the dollar at the parallel market, while the official and interbank market trended between N197.5 and N199.

There was a renewed pressure on the naira, after its sudden appreciation few days ago that was attributed to series of measures deployed by the apex bank to stem the sliding profile of the local currency.

The first of the measures, according to an operator from the bureau de change segment, is dollar auction, which serves as intervention efforts to bail the naira.

The reserves fell from the $28.09 billion as at February 1, 2016, losing $280 million, representing about one per cent decline.
As at January 4, 2016, the reserves had stood at $28.97 billion, which means a decline of $1.16 billion or 4.2 per cent.

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