By John Ikani
The Federal Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (FCCPC), the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and the Economic Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) have commenced rights violation investigation into the money lending industry.
Babatunde Irukera, Consumers’ Rights Attorney who announced the development on Monday, said the Independent Corrupt Practices Commission (ICPC) and the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA) were also members.
According to him, the committee is expected to spearhead efforts to regulate a number of potentially questionable practices by certain money lenders, also known as loan sharks.
Irukera bemoaned the activities of the companies whose stressing loan terms had quickly evolved into a domineering and oppressive practice that targeted society’s most vulnerable describing them as “arbitrary unjust and unreasonable.”
While regretting that the act was fast becoming a dominant and abusive practice targeting some of the most vulnerable in society, Irukera went on to note that the committee decided to work together, take immediate enforcement action against known violators while investigating others, and pursue criminal prosecutions where appropriate.
“Continuing complaints about questionable repayment enforcement practices including public shaming and violations of privacy have led to significant and understandable consumer aggravation and dissatisfaction.
“Others are arbitrary, unjust, unreasonable, or exploitative interest rates and or loan balances calculations, harassment and failure of consumer feedback mechanisms, among others have caused consumer aggravation,” Irukera lamented.
Irukera further explained that many of the loan firms are not legally established or licensed by the appropriate authorities to engage in the services they provide.
“Initial inquiries demonstrate that many of the purported lenders are not legally acceptably established or otherwise licensed by the appropriate authorities to engage in the services they ostensibly provide.
“A joint taskforce of analysts and enforcers was also created and immediately activated.
“The agencies recognised and welcome products and providers that bridge the lending gap for consumers who would otherwise be ineligible for conventional loans from traditional financial institutions.
“However, this must occur within legally acceptable parameters of transparency and fairness,’’ Irukera added.
Many Nigerians have been victims of unregistered loan companies who operate solely online. These companies have been widely denounced for exploiting Nigeria’s economic downturn to target the vulnerable, loaning them monies with unreasonable interests and violating their privacies to reach their contacts and spread damning information about the borrower in situations of default.
According to Irukera, the commission will now receive complains and information on the identities of businesses or individuals participating in these acts through it’s email: [email protected]