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BVN: Panic as Nigerians besiege banks

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By Odunewu Segun                          

Following a Federal High Court order last week that bank account owners who are yet to have a Bank Verification Number (BVN) run the risk of forfeiting their money to the federal government, account holders are besieging banks to upgrade their status, National Daily has gathered.

Recall that a Federal High Court in Abuja had granted a temporary forfeiture order on accounts without BVN, giving such account owners two weeks to upgrade or forfeit the money to the Federal Government.

Justice Nnamdi Dimgba handed down the order on October 17 while ruling on an ex-parte motion filed by the Federal Government and the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF).

He also restrained commercial banks from operating such accounts for the meantime and directed them to disclose the owners of the accounts and the status of the funds in them.

Affected by the orders are Access Bank, Citi Bank, Diamond Bank, Ecobank, Fidelity Bank, First Bank, First City Monument Bank, Guaranty Trust Bank, Heritage Bank, Keystone Bank, Skye Bank, Stanbic IBTC, Standard Chartered, Sterling Bank, Union Bank, Unity Bank, United Bank for Africa, Wema Bank and Zenith Bank.

One of the affected bank customer, Chidi Obiano told National Daily that he has three accounts with different banks. “Before I travelled last year, I did my BVN with UBA because that was my main accounts but I couldn’t linked with the other two due to some paper works.”

Another customer, Moradeke, said age discrepancies had been responsible for her own delay. She told National Daily that she two accounts, one with Diamond Bank and another with GTB.

According to her, she had enrolled with Diamond Bank for the BVN, but when she took the BVN to GTB, she was told the age on her BVN was different from the one on her account details with them.

A source with one of the banks said they had made adequate provisions for customers to come in and linked their accounts.

Meanwhile, reacting to the development, Osilama Okuofu, a management consultant said the BVN exercise was actually a good idea as it would help prevents fraud and further strengthened the Nigerian banking system.

Speaking with National Daily in a telephone conversation, Okuofu said the CBN had actually made provision for those in Diaspora and also gave enough time for compliance.

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He however opined that forfeiture of the money is a little to the extreme as this would only compounds the woes of Nigerians who in recent years have been pushed to the walls because of the poor management of the economy.

He advised owners of affected accounts to do the needful irrespective of the court order as the BVN in the long run would be beneficial to them.

At the last count, the Central Bank (CBN) had issued 30,511,506 BVNs. But the Nigeria Inter-Bank Settlement System (NIBSS) says a total of 45.85 million bank accounts remain unlinked although when compared with the active accounts the number stood at 15.72 million unlinked to BVN as at February 2017.

The BVN was launched on February 14 2014 for the purpose of registering all customers in the financial system using biometric technology. Each registered person is then given a BVN number that is unique to him.

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