…Customers protest on social Media
By Kayode Tokede
Customers of Diamond Bank Plc have protested alleged multi-million Naira stamp duty scandal on their saving accounts on social media in order to attract the intervention of Consumer Protection Council ( CPC) and the Central Bank of Nigeria.
The Federal Government through the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) early last year had imposed stamp duty of N50 on bank customers for money received into their accounts.
On the Stamp Duties Act case in Supreme Court, many banks had argued that the Federal Government Finance Regulations 2009 amendment was not in line with the law and therefore refused to charge.
Specifically, Diamond Bank was alleged by customers to have charged customers on its saving accounts for several months.
Saving account customers had cried foul over the bank charges on social media.
In a swift reaction, Head, Media Relations, Diamond Bank Plc, Ikechukwu Omeife, disclosed to Nigerian NewsDirect that the bank was strictly adhering to CBN directives on stamp duty charges.
In his words, “There was a court case where the appeal court instructed that the Act should be suspended but the case was appealled to the Supreme Court.
“Some banks including Diamond Bank Plc had stopped charging customers stamp duties on saving accounts. Following CBN directives, Diamond Bank started the collection of stamp duty charge this year.
“N50 charges on previous transactions were collected and it is not possible for a Bank to charge beyond N50 per transaction.
“If a customer is charged beyond N50 per transaction, he might had many transactions in the past six months that were not collected,” he explained.
He noted that CBN had instructed commercial banks to remit all 2016 stamp duty charges before the end of 2017 first quarter (Q1 2017).
A bank customer with Diamond Bank, Ugochi Eze, had posted on a social media how the lender charged him N1700 for stamp duty in five months.
In his words, “I’m so livid right now. This is not fair, after boasting about Diamond Bank and even made some of my friends open accounts with the bank.
“The only way to say thank you is by ripping me off. I’m sure the bank is wise enough to know that most customers who run solely savings account are not the very rich people.
“How can you charge me N1700 for Stamp duty in 5 months, when you don’t give me a kobo interest.
“That is different from the N105 charged for every online transfer or N65 for ATM use. The last straw was when you charged me N105 twice for a transaction that did not go through,” he said.
Another customer, Frederick Okoye, said, “Seriously I am short of words.. Since last week till today you guys have deducted almost N5000 from my account all in the name of stamp duty.
“This has gotten to a point that I can’t keep mute over it again. Am so pulling out all my funds and transferring it to another bank that is much better than Diamond bank.”
Furthermore, Lulu Eatright posted on the Bank’s facebook that N5,550 was deducted from her savings account within three days.
According to her, “how can Diamond Bank deduct a whopping sum of N5550 for useless bank duty charge, within three days?
“What then happens in a month? How can a bank rob customers and you call Central Bank of Nigeria? Other banks are wise in their dealings with their customers but Diamond Bank wants to play obedient. I see, let me see how long it will last because the bank is already losing customers to other banks,” she lamented
CBN in circular stated, “As part of efforts to boost its revenue base, the federal government of Nigeria is exploring revenue opportunities in the non-oil sectors especially taxes and rates. It is in recognition of this fact that banks and other finance institutions are enjoined to support government’s revenue drive through compliance with the provisions of the Stamp Duties Act, LFN 2004 as reinforced by the court judgement in Suit No FHC/L/CS/1710/2013.
In this regard, the CBN pursuant to the provisions of its enabling laws, hereby issues this circular to all DMBs other finance institutions.
“With immediate effect, all DMBs and other finance institutions shall begins the charging of N50 per eligible transaction in accordance with the provisions of the Stamp Duties Act and Federal Government Financial Regulations 2009, that is, all receipts given by any bank or other financial institutions in acknowledgment of services rendered in respect of electronic transfer and teller deposits from N1,000 and above
”For the avoidance of doubt the following receipts are however exempted from imposition of stamp duties: payments of deposits or transfer by self to self whether inter or intra bank; and any form of withdrawals/transfers from saving accounts; It should be noted that these charges are only payable by receiving accounts
“Each DMB shall open an account designated as NIPOST Stamp Duties Account into which all charges collected shall be paid. The balances in such accounts shall be transferred monthly by the DMBs to CBN NIPOST Stamp Duty Collection Account No. 3000047517; “Other finance institutions shall remit their Stamp Duty collections to any DMB of their choice.”