Business - News - February 10, 2021

Bank charges for current account maintenance lawful, Court declares

Charges by commercial banks on current accounts maintained by customers are lawful and within the statutory powers by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), the court has declared.
The Federal High Court sitting in Abeokuta, Ogun State, made the declaration February 3, 2021 in its ruling in a suit instituted by a legal practitioner, Olumide Babalola, challenging the policy by the CBN for commercial banks to deduct charges on current accounts maintained by their customers.
The policy directive is contained in the guideline by the CBN on charges by banks and other financial Institutions released in January 2020.
In the legal action against the CBN, the legal practitioner contended that the policy and guidelines violated his fundamental human rights.
But the CBN, through its counsel, Adeleke Agbola, of Cheakley Chambers, challenged the application on the ground that the plaintiff lacked the legal capacity to institute the suit on a policy that affects the general public.
In his Notice of Preliminary Objection to the Suit, Mr Agbola contended that the plaintiff failed to show that the CBN acted in bad faith or breached any law by issuing the guidelines to the banks.
The trial judge, Justice Shittu Abubakar, after reviewing the case dismissed the suit in its entirety for lacking in merit and upheld the preliminary objection.
The court held that CBN guidelines issued to authorize deduction of current account maintenance charges was lawful and within the statutory powers of the apex bank.
Also, the Court concurred with the arguments canvassed by the CBN legal counsel that the plaintiff has not shown sufficient evidence to support his case that the CBN breached any known law by issuing the guidelines.
Justice Abubakar also held that the plaintiff/applicant ought to have negotiated with his bank, Access Bank Plc for a reduction of his charges instead of dragging the CBN to court for playing its role under the law.

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