Justice Nnamdi Dimgba of the Federal High Court, Awka Judicial Division, Anambra State, has ruled that hidden bank charges imposed on residents of Anambra, Lagos, Ogun, Kano, Rivers, Abia states and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) for withdrawal and deposits.
The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), in the circular of April 20, 2017, had directed financial institutions to charge three per cent for withdrawals above N500,000 for individual accounts and five per cent for corporate accounts above N3 million.
The judge declared that the defendant’s circulars marked: BPS/DIR/GEN/CIR/04/004, published on April 20, 2017 and PSM/DIR/CON/CWO/02/014 published on September 17, 2019 were ultra vires, unconstitutional and illegal.
Dimgba noted that the circulars contravened Sections 1(3), 2(1) and Section 42 of the 1999 Constitution, adding that the charges originating from the implementation of the defendant’s circulars remained illegal.
The plaintiff, Chijioke Ifediora, had sued the apex bank in FHC/AWK/CS/91/2020, seeking the court’s declaration that such circulars were illegal.
Also, in the September 17, 2019 circular, the charge was extended to deposits, but at a two per cent and three per cent rate above the threshold for individual and corporate accounts respectively.
The applicant, who claimed to be an indigene of Anambra, approached a commercial bank to deposit N600, 000 cash but was told that he had to pay a surcharge of three per cent on the N100, 000 excess lodgement.
He explained that when he protested the surcharge, the bank officials drew his attention to a copy of CBN’s circular as the basis for the extra charge.
On reading the circular, he noticed that the charges were directed against citizens or residents of only six states and the FCT and that Anambra, where he was based and maintained a bank account, was affected.
He, thereafter, approached the court, insisting that the bank’s policy was discriminatory against residents of the six states and the FCT, just as he argued that it violated provisions of Section 42 of the 1999 Constitution.