Politicians, others evade BVN



• Banks’ enforcement raises new issues
• CBN extends enrolment for Diaspora customers

IF, as the saying goes, money talks, it is speaking in unmistakable terms to some people: You may own me but do not touch me. At least for now.

For fear of being identified as owners of huge deposits in banks, amid acclaimed success in the Bank Verification Number (BVN), some politically exposed persons and top officers in the public service seem to have evaded the scheme, The Guardian has learnt.

This revelation came to light last night as the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) extended the timeline for banks’ customers in the Diaspora to enroll for their BVN to January 31, 2016.

A competent source in the banking sector said the deposits belonging to such groups, which are still in the system, are so enormous that none of the banks associated with the lodgments would want to miss them.

According to the source, the proceeds were earlier trapped in the banking sector with the sudden policy to refuse dollar deposits and non-transfer outside the country without verifiable details of the transactions.

The source also said the development has now been compounded with the latest policy from the CBN that foreign exchange transactions must be with verified BVN, even in the purchase of foreign exchange.

It also said that the public and banking sector officials’ collaboration in illegal business of this nature, is exactly what led to idling of billions of naira belonging to government, which was exposed by the implementation of TSA.

However, the CBN has declared the BVN a success and the beginning of a new dawn in the country’s payment landscape, adding that there is no going back on the prescribed sanctions for non-compliance to the exercise.

But the Director of Communications Department, CBN, Alhaji Ibrahim Mu’azu, who spoke to The Guardian, said he would be surprised to hear that a bank allowed transactions in a non-BVN compliant account, because it is a project agreed upon by all of them.

Besides, the bank director explained that banks have invested heavily in the project to sabotage it, added that they fully know the consequences of such mistake or deliberate action.

But some middle level managers of banks told The Guardian yesterday, that such development is possible, but denied the existence of such in their respective banks.

One of them said that such plan is high-level “coded arrangement” which the arrangers know that if it gets bad, it would consume them all.

Speaking with former President of the Chartered Institute of Bankers of Nigeria, Mazi Okechukwu Unegbu, he said that he would not be surprised to hear such, as many treasury looters have been trapped by the unique identification mode of BVN.

But the total figure of 21 million which the CBN says is the number of BVN registrants so far raises a new concern over the success of the financial inclusion initiative.

Still a regulatory source had confided in The Guardian that there were non-active, as well as active accounts in banks, numbering in millions that were not captured in the BVN exercise.

The source explained that among the numbers were the long owed pensioners, who do not see need to activate accounts that nothing is being paid into, while the other group that falls into the number are those “who have multiple identities” with various infractions and by way of not exposing themselves, have opted out.

“But I can assure you that there is no other way to get into banking relationship from now on except through the BVN. The scheme is meant to capture biometrics, rather that fictitious house addresses before now,” the source noted.

According to the Nigeria Interbank-Settlement System, about 12,000 Nigerians in Diaspora have so far taken advantage of the BVN registration centres created outside the country.

Meanwhile, The Guardian has noted that as the financial institutions embark on enforcement of the “BVN for transaction” directive yesterday, several issues emerged, as many customers of banks claimed lack of awareness on the need to link their various accounts in other banks to the BVN.

The banks’ customers, who pleaded anonymity, also claimed that although they have duly registered, their banks were also sending them messages of non-compliance.

Coincidentally, the customers of some of the big banks in the country dominated the complaint record and calls put through to the banks were neither picked up nor replied.

CBN at the weekend, raised the alarm that some fraudsters have started sending unsolicited mails and text messages to bank customers alerting them to the deactivation or suspension of their bank accounts due to uncompleted BVN registration process as well as directing them what next to do.

Mu’azu said: “The public is therefore warned that neither the Central Bank of Nigeria and deposit money banks nor their employees or agents would ever call bank customers or send e-mail/text messages requesting for passwords, card details or personal identification number (PIN).

“Bank customers are therefore, advised to personally visit their banks for any issue requiring disclosure of personal bank details,” the statement said.

However, a market operator and Managing Director of Cowry Assets Management Limited, Johnson Chukwu, in a chat with The Guardian, affirmed that the BVN project would now create a sense of decorum in the credit system of the nation’s financial industry, unless the stakeholders wishes to ignore.

According to him, if the process is actually done as described in its objectives, the banking sector is on its way to taming fraudulent practices that have characterised the financial system, because every illegal activity will at least have an identity behind it.

He however, differed with the sanctions for non-compliance, urging more patience from the regulator, as immediate enforcement may be counter productive to the financial inclusion drive.

He also said that BVN is not a “one-size-fit all,” as it is only relevant in financial system transactions and advocated for harmonisation of all biometrics collected by several agencies of government.

The extension, Mu’azu explained, was to enable the Diaspora to complete the enrolment exercise as well as link the BVN with their respective accounts.

While emphasising that the extension was only for customers in the Diaspora, the statement advised Deposit Money Banks (DMBs) to ensure that the exemption was utilised by the targeted group.

However, it noted that Nigerian residents without BVN would continue to receive cash and electronic credit inflows, as the account would neither be deactivated nor confiscated.

Receive News Alerts on Whatsapp: +2348136370421

  • gogolagos

    Nigerian banking system should also introduce limit on carry raw cash, limit should be around 100000 naira. this will also limit money laundry. if you are holding more that the limit you have to give an explanation. this will also cut bribery and malpractices.

    • emmanuel kalu

      at the very least, the person needs to reported to agencies. in the US. if you withdraw more than 10k dollar, you get ping with the FBI. if it is a legal withdrawal, you have no worries. There also need to be monitoring of payment especially cash payment into bank accounts.

      • gogolagos

        there should be a system of control of transaction. for example in developed country, when you are about to open a bank account, they will identify you and your profession. any time you make a big deposit or withdraw a certain amount you will be automatically link to the police for eventual control. this is country that you will see a Police Constable having account reading nine zero and nobody should ask him where the money comes from.

      • takethetrain

        nothing illegal, sorry to disappoint . lol

  • Eyes Justice

    It would’ve been a perfect opportunity to give bite to the anti-corruption mantra of the regime. Had the war on corruption been real rather than the fable that it is, this rare opportunity would have allowed Nigeria to bring those errant and pompous politicians, especially former governors, LG Chairmen, and their civil service collaborators who make a career of stealing Nigeria blind to heel. But it wont happen because the anti-graft and security agencies are too busy displaying eye-service than perform their constitutional duties. Besides, these same politicians have over the years castrated these agencies through such political devices as cynical under-funding, widening loopholes in anti-corruption laws rather than closing same and even outright collusion with the agents and prosecutors.

    O, what a glorious day it would have been to see seized proceeds of illicit gains, and the loot yet to be siphoned abroad, even if these looters were to quietly walk away from their piles to avoid detection. But alas, those given the constitutional responsibility to protect the nation from robbers and mindless politicians are snoozing, snoring and dreaming of juicier bones while their too-weak-to-fight image lingers on their mind. This was going to present a godsend opportunity to bring the big thieves and arrogant, glorified pickpockets like James Ibori and Lucy Igbinedion to book. But again nothing will happen. Some of them will quietly take our money out of the banks and hide them in Government Houses or guest houses, while they themselves continue to hide in the senate, Federal Executive Council, Local Governments and their political parties. Longlive the Kleptocratic Tribes Republic.

    China on my mind! Yes, one day we’ll get there.

    • share Idea

      My gee, the promise land can be delayed but can never be denied Nigerians, GEJ administration implemented so many scientific policies that will make tracking or fighting corruption easy for any serious government. That is why I’m really surprised that Buhari was not immediately highlighting the gains of those policies to citizens but rather resort to calling GEJ and all the people that served under him corrupt.

      The good thing is that most of all these scientific policies have a way of checkmating both the implementor and any person that tries to abuse the system by providing an audit trail that can be used by state for prosecution. The next game changer is mandatory use of National Id system which NIMC slated for January 9 next year. I’m quietly enjoying the effects of transformation of previous PDP administrations and current support the present administration is extending to them. Nigeria we hail thee

      • emmanuel kalu

        we must give credit to the past administration for implementing this things. they are now bearing fruit and would eventually help to rid this nation of corruption. you are right that we need to have a national ID, that is linked to this BVN. we also need to link it to voter registration.

  • emmanuel kalu

    And now we begin to see why it was so important to do this. once a considerable amount of time and being given to register and link account. There needs to be enforcement and investigation into those abandoned account of those that failed to link them. especially account with huge sum of money in them. This is one of the tools now to use to fight corruption and prevent leakage. we need to begin the process of ensuring that we link this BVN to a central location, where it can be used for voter registration, pension payment, credit facility, government workers and many more important process.

  • Sam

    It’s one rule for the poor and another for the rich and wealthy. The article at financial website gives an all the detail a common person needs when it comes to BVN. BVN should be an ongoing process. Either CBN/NIBSS/OIS services are making huge amounts of money from Diaspora that they wants to extend it. Perhap, another tool to fight “Kworuption”. Note that I did not say…’corruption’

  • dkoma

    There is no center in Canada. The only location closest to us is in Washington DC. Who would travel that distance because of BVN. BVN is as a result of failure of NIMC to rollout national Identification for Nigerians. BVN should be a continuous exercise. Put the right people in position to advise your government. N30 billion spent on national ID by Jonathan government, yet only about 4.4% of Nigerians have national ID. Until we fix this ID card issue, we will go nowhere.

    • Ogbologbo

      There is in Toronto and Victoria. As your bank.

      • O F

        Good Man.Good Information.

        • Ogbologbo

          u welcome

  • TKBaba

    Baba Go-Slow is SLOWLY making corrupt activities more difficult for treasury looters.