Nigeria’s Banking System Safe, Sound, NDIC Assures Despite Challenges

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The National Deposit Insurance Corporation (NDIC) has declared that despite the devastating effects of the COVID-19 pandemic and other challenges, Nigeria’s banking system remains safe and sound. Managing Director and Chief Executive of NDIC, Mr. Bello Hasan, stated this in Abeokuta, Ogun State, yesterday, at a workshop for law enforcement agencies.

The workshop, which drew participants from legal departments of financial regulatory agencies, banking supervision department,s and law enforcement agencies, had as its theme: “Effective Investigation and Prosecution of Banking Malpractices in Nigeria.”

Hassan stated, “We know that we are passing through several unprecedented challenges in the industry. But despite these, the regulatory agencies are taking various measures to ensure that banks remain safe and sound.

“According to report, despite the effects of the pandemic and looking at the various financial standing indicators, the banking system is safe and sound.

“Looking at capitalisation, the earnings and liquidity I can confidently say base on these financial standing indicators, the Nigeria banking system is safe and sound and resilient.”

The NDIC boss said the corporation had begun payment of compensation to customers of 42 banks, whose licenses were withdrawn by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), last year.

Bello, who could not disclose the amount that had been paid or the number of depositors that had been settled, said the NDIC would also realize the assets of the affected banks to ensure that depositors are settled.

He stated, “The 42 banks that CBN withdrew their licenses last year, we have already paid the insured amount and we are working hard to realize the assets of those liquidated institutions so that we can pay depositors of those failed institutions. The customers are still coming forward to be paid.”

To check alleged insider abuse and involvement in fraud and robbery incidents, Bello advised banks to take measures right from the time they are employing their staff.

“Banks should strengthen their security, they should do a proper control and do a lot of background checks on their staff to ensure that they employ people that are fit and proper for employment,” he added.

In his goodwill message, Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Abdulrasheed Bawa, explained that the directive to bankers to declare their assets was not to witch-hunt them, but to save Nigeria from another serious crisis in the banking sector.

The EFCC chairman said the directive aimed at clearing, “the rots that permeate the nation’s banking sector” was misconstrued by some people he said were ignorant.

Bawa, who was represented by the Lagos Zonal Commandant of the commission, Ahmed Muhammad Ghali, vowed that, despite the stiff opposition of the policy, the anti-graft agency would not relent in its efforts in sanitise the country’s financial institutions.

He said the policy became imperative to salvage the banking sector from corruption, insisting that Nigeria cannot afford to go through another serious crisis in the banking sector.

The EFCC chairman lamented what he called, “a slew of corrupt practices,” in the banking sector, disclosing that, the commission had prosecuted and secured numerous convictions against bankers, including those who had retired from practice.

He called on bankers, financial institutions and other security agencies to partner with the commission in ridding the country of corruption and other financial crimes.

Bawa said, “I recall that upon assumption of office, one of the major pronouncements I made was giving a directive to bankers to declare their assets before June 1, 2021.

“I had given the directive genuinely out of sincerity of purpose, knowing the rots that permeate the nation’s banking sector.

“In other words, the directive was born out of efforts to sanitise the banking sector. But it was received with mixed feelings.

“It is obvious that those who kicked (or are still kicking against the directive are ignorant of the unmistakable details of the Bank Employees Declaration of Assets Act.

“Unlike the claims in some quarters, it is not a witch-hunt; rather, it is part of measures to sanitise the country’s financial institutions.

“We are aware of the different shades of fraudulent activities going on in our financial institutions, particularly in the banking industry sector.

“In dealing with this situation, the EFCC, under my watch, has intensified its engagement with bank executives, more than ever before.

“The nation cannot afford to go through another serious crisis in the banking sector; and this explains the constant intervention by the EFCC.”

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