TESSY IGOMU examines the travail of a bank customer listed as a debtor on the Central Bank of Nigeria’s Credit Risk Management System without his knowledge
The experience of a Lagos-based journalist, Azuka Onwuka, is a byzantine tale, which many bank customers might readily identify with. He is presently in a race against time to salvage his reputation, which he claimed was dented by an action taken by the United Bank of Africa, and to prevent likely further damage arising from it.
He alleged that the bank carried out “fraudulent, hidden debit” on his dormant account and branded him a debtor without his knowledge.
Onwuka claimed the action had cost him huge financial losses, emotional and psychological trauma.
A debtor in absentia
In April 2022, Onwuka clinched a multimillion naira business deal with an international firm but had to forfeit it after finding out that his name was uploaded to the Credit Risk Management System of the Central Bank of Nigeria, an online portal with comprehensive details of individuals owing banks across the country.
He explained that when such an action is taken, the integrity of the individual involved comes into question.
Onwuka noted that the person’s name would always pop up as a defaulter when a background check is carried out by a potential employer or business partner. “That was my ordeal. UBA left a dormant account that I had with them and used my details to open another one without my knowledge and debited it progressively and cumulatively, leaving a debit balance,” he alleged.
Fallout of 2005 Bank merger
Onwuka told PUNCH Investigations that what started as a regular background check on an account he left in 2006, turned into an ugly experience that deprived him of sleep and loss of productive man-hours channelled into the exchange of correspondences between him and UBA from February 2022 to May.
Onwuka recalled that it all started with a salary account he opened with the defunct Standard Trust Bank that merged with UBA.
In 2005, due to the need to strengthen the operational capabilities of the banking sector with to increase waning public and global confidence, the CBN instituted a reform that led to the merger of 89 banks in existence at the time.
With STB merging with UBA, all customers’ accounts, including that of Onwuka were transferred to UBA.
The embattled man said a year after the merger (2006), he stopped banking with UBA but left some money in the account with hopes to have it reactivated one day.
Onwuka, a writer and columnist, noted that he continued to receive monthly statements but at a point, noticed that the account had been wiped out, leaving him with zero balance.
Emergence of international business deal
Onwuka said in February 2022, an international business opportunity came up and knowing full well that the organisation usually carries out credit checks on its partners, he decided to find out the state of all his accounts, including the dormant one.
The man said he was shocked to discover that another account was opened in his name and that a debit had accrued on it.
Onwuka recounted, “I requested for a statement of account from UBA, but received two instead of one. The balance on my dormant account was zero, while that of the strange account created by UBA in my name without my knowledge, and which had been debiting progressively and cumulatively since 2006, had a debit balance of N48, 882.05.
Culled From Punch