By Levinus Nwabughiogu – Abuja

House of Representatives, Wednesday, set up an adhoc committee to investigate unclaimed funds running into trillions of naira in commercial banks as well as infractions by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).

The House also mandated the committee headed by Hon. Unyime Idem (PDP, Akwa Ibom) to investigate unremitted funds collected on behalf of Agencies and Departments of the Federal Government by Commercial Banks which it said runs contrary to the provisions of the extant laws.

The resolution followed the consideration of a motion presented by Dachung Bagos from Plateau State at the plenary.

In his motion, Bagos noted about 45.85 million bank accounts were yet to be linked after the introduction of the Bank Verification Number (BVN) was introduced by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) in 2014.

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He said: “About seven years after the introduction of the BVN into Nigeria banking system, about 45.85 million bank accounts across Nigeria are yet to be linked to BVNs as data released by the Nigerian Inter-Bank Settlement Systems (NIBSS) on June 23, 2021, disclosed that the total number of bank accounts in Nigeria as of May 2019 is pegged at 122.071 million and the active accounts as of May 2020 stood at 72.936 million.

“The commercial banks in Nigeria have adamantly disobeyed and continue to hold on to the monies out of failed transactions more than necessary, against the directives of the Central Bank of Nigeria and to the detriment of Nigerians.

“Despite the introduction by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) of the Bank Verification Number

(BVN) to curb the menace in the financial sectors, about 71 million customers still use their accounts without

the compulsory identification, per data from the Nigerian Inter-Bank Settlement Systems (NIBSS).

“The lack of legal regulatory framework and political will to deal with the unclaimed assets especially funds abandoned and trapped in commercial banks will continue to put Nigeria behind so many countries in the world that have developed the legal framework to deal with these assets.

“The recent disclosure about the funds collected by Commercial Banks on behalf of some key Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) of the Federal Government to the tune of N1.2 trillion, in revenues they generated but failed to remit to the Federation’s account since 2016, as required by law.

“Some commercial banks have refused to remit to the Government, fees and levies collected on behalf of Government agencies and Departments in the last 10 years.”

The lawmaker said that CBN has failed in its responsibility to oversight the commercial banks appropriately.

“Although the Central Bank of Nigeria has the statutory responsibility of regulating commercial banks in the country, they have failed in their responsibilities to carry out the necessary oversight on the commercial banks.

“The Central Bank of Nigeria has not been transparent in the implementation of its intervention programmes and projects, and has shown an almost zero level of accountability and transparency before the National Assembly in respect of funds generated both locally and internationally,” Bagos added.

The motion was supported when put to a voice vote, voted for, and adopted by the House.

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