From Ndubuisi Orji and Kemi Yesufu, Abuja
The House of Representatives yesterday ordered the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to check sharp practices associated with Automated Teller Machines (ATM) in the country.
The House urged the apex bank to direct the various commercial banks and other financial institutions to put in place online monitoring mechanisms, so as to determine the functionality of ATM and vault cash levels with a view to minimising the incidence of debiting customers without dispensation of cash by the machine.
The lower chamber mandated its Committee on Banking and Currency to ensure compliance implementation and report back to the House within six weeks for further legislative action. This was sequel to a motion sponsored by Joseph Edionwele (PDP, Edo) on the “Need to investigate the sharp practices in ATM”. Leading debate on the motion at yesterday’s plenary, Edionwele lamented that many bank customers who use the ATM services are being shortchanged by some malfunctioning ATMs.
He said although sometimes, the ATMs are unable to dispense cash, the customer’s accounts are automatically debited and is recorded in the bank’s transactions, noting that failure to complain by many ignorant customers oftentimes result in non-reversal of the debit.
“Many Nigerians may have unknowingly fallen victim of the sharp practices by banks considering the sizeable population of customers who may not be alerted on their communication devices on transactions in their accounts,” the lawmaker stated.
Several legislators, who spoke on the issue supported the motion, stating that if the sharp practices are not checked, they are capable of eroding the confidence of the public in ATMs.
The lawmakers argue that such a development would adversely affect the cashless policy of the government.
However, Dennis Nnamdi (PDP, Enugu State) urged the House “to be circumspect in issuing directives because the CBN is fully aware of banks’ sharp practices.”