Some banks yesterday blocked accounts that were either not registered under the Bank Verification Number (BVN) exercise or the number was not provided for by the customers.
Hundreds of customers in Abuja, Lagos and other major cities in the country had hectic times yesterday due to the restriction on their accounts especially on withdrawals, online and ATM transactions among others due to alleged non-compliance with the BVN.
Banks in Nyanya and Karu in Abuja suburbs as well as bank branches in A.Y.A and FCT witnessed large turnout of customers who came to complain on the restriction on their accounts despite registering and obtaining their BVN numbers.
Our reporters who went round saw customers showing evidences of their being registered with their BVN and protested the treatment meted out to them by the banks.
“Ma, kindly bear with us, you can go to the counter now with this form to withdraw money. The ATM would have been resolved by tomorrow when your BVN would have been linked to your account,” a bank official (name withheld) was heard telling a customer.
Another customer who simply identified himself as Johnson said the excuses being given by the banks were untenable.
He said: “Most of us obtained our BVN here (bank branch) but our accounts were restricted. You can imagine if I did not show my BVN, they would have denied me. I have only this account (number). So I think those responsible for this mix-up must be punished to serve as lessons.”
Checks by our correspondent on some banks show some level of chaos of some sort as some accounts were restricted even though they had previously obtained their BVN.
Some other customers were at FirstBank, GTbank, Union Bank and Zenith Bank with similar complaints.
Another customer Philomena Ayila said she didn’t obtain her BVN and her account had been restricted but that she was in the bank to do the BVN.
A notice from GTBank on why some account holders were restricted from withdrawals said in parts: ‘‘Temporary Restriction of Your Account. In line with the Central Bank of Nigeria’s (CBN) directive that all accounts without Bank Verification Numbers (BVN) belonging to customers resident in Nigeria, should be restricted from debit transactions, please note that this category of GTBank accounts without BVNs have been restricted from debit transactions effective Sunday, November 1, 2015.’’
Our reporter gathered that effective September 1, 2015, the banks activated temporary debit transaction restrictions on all accounts without the BVN at the close of the October 31st deadline.
The banks activated the restrictions on the accounts in line with the Central Bank of Nigeria’s directive.
The temporary restrictions will deprive non-compliant customers the ability to draw or make deposits into their accounts pending when they obtain their BVN.
On visit to branches of Guarantee Trust Bank university of Lagos, Union bank and
First bank in Sabo and Yaba area of Lagos it was gathered that customers were asked to indicate their BVN on either deposit or withdrawal slip before the transactions are attended to.
Our reporter also observed that customers were not turned back from the banking hall on account of non-compliance as they were merely asked to undertake registration before their transactions were attended to.
Our reporter however observed that walk in customers who wanted to deposit money into a third party account that had no BVN could not do so as the attention of the account holders were demanded to consummate the transaction.
Meanwhile, in a statement issued yesterday, the CBN clarified that accounts of Nigeria residents without BVN would continue to receive cash and electronic credit inflows and would neither be deactivated nor confiscated. It therefore advised the deposit money banks to educate their customers accordingly.
The statement made by the Bank’s Director, Corporate Communications, Alhaji Ibrahim Mu’azu, said heeding the call of Nigerian Bank customers in the Diaspora, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has extended the timeline for Nigerian bank customers in the Diaspora to enroll for their Bank Verification Numbers (BVN) to January 31, 2016.