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One year after Ripples Nigeria report, Reps say 71m bank accounts without identities



Despite the framework entrenched by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to regulate the banking industry, it has been discovered that about 71 million bank accounts are being operated in the country without identifications.

A 2020 exclusive report by Ripples Nigeria had revealed that the apex financial institution repeatedly issued deadlines over the linkage of accounts to the BVNs but according to data from Nigeria Inter-Bank Settlement Scheme Nigeria, active bank accounts stood at 115 million as at May 2020.

According to the report, the 46,035,474 accounts linked to BVN as at January 17, 2020 are subtracted, it becomes clear that only 40 percent of active accounts were linked.

The lagging figure again showed some institutions and Nigerians’ nonchalant attitude to government policies.

Corroborating this apparent nonchalance on the part of Nigerians and the lack of enforcement by the CBN, the House of Representatives on Monday decried the low level of registration which has resulted in many abandoned assets in the banks.

Dachung Bagos, a lawmaker representing Jos South, South/Jos East Federal Constituency, on Monday, presented this before the plenary.

According to Bagos, not less than 45.85 million bank accounts are yet to be linked after the introduction of the BVN mandate in 2014, while 71 million Nigerians still operate their bank accounts without identification, which further confirmed the earlier reports published by Ripples Nigeria.

In his motion, Bagos disclosed that banks have repeatedly flouted CBN’s directives on this mandate by holding on to the monies out of failed transactions more than necessary.

The lawmaker further cited a recent data report issued by the “Nigerian Inter–Bank Settlement Systems (NIBSS) on June 23, 2021, disclosed that the total number of bank accounts in Nigeria as of May 2019 is pegged at 122.071 million.

Read also: CBN probes bank customers’ enrolment in BVN

“But the active accounts as of May, 2020 stood at 72.936 million.”

Railing against the financial institutions, Bagos said, “About seven years after the introduction of the BVN into Nigeria banking system, about 45.85 million bank accounts across Nigeria are yet to be linked to BVNs.

“The commercial banks in Nigeria have adamantly disobeyed and continue to hold on to the monies out of failed transactions more than necessary, against the directives of the Central Bank of Nigeria and to the detriment of Nigerians.

“Despite the introduction by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) of the Bank Verification Number (BVN) to curb the menace in the financial sectors, about 71 million customers still use their accounts without the compulsory identification, per data from the Nigerian Inter-Bank Settlement Systems (NIBSS).

“The lack of legal regulatory framework and political will to deal with the unclaimed assets, especially funds abandoned and trapped in commercial banks, will continue to put Nigeria behind so many countries in the world that have developed the legal framework to deal with these assets.”

The lawmaker also picketed the CBN for shirking on its responsibilities by failing to carry out the necessary oversight.

“Although the Central Bank of Nigeria has the statutory responsibility of regulating commercial banks, they have failed in their responsibilities to carry out the necessary oversight.

“The Central Bank of Nigeria has not been transparent in the implementation of its intervention programmes and projects.

“CBN has also shown an almost zero level of accountability and transparency before the National Assembly in respect of funds generated both locally and internationally,” Bagos alleged.

Afterwards, the House instituted an ad hoc committee, headed by member representing Oruk Anam/Ukanafun federal constituency, Unyime Idem (PDP, Akwa Ibom), to investigate the unremitted funds as well as the alleged infractions by the CBN.

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