The Federal Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (FCCP), in collaboration with other institutions including the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN); the Independent Corrupt Practices Commission (ICPC); and the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA), have agreed to beam their searchlight on money lenders.
This is with a view to addressing multiple potentially dubious conducts of some money lenders, otherwise known as loan sharks.
The Commission explained that the investigation is pursuant to Sections 17(a), (e), (g), (h), (i), (m), (s), (x), (y), (z); 123; 124; 127; 129; 130 of the FCCPA Act, 2018.
FCCP, in a statement yesterday, said the decision followed, “Continuing complaints about questionable repayment enforcement practices including public shaming and violations of privacy, arbitrary, unjust, unreasonable, or exploitative interest rates and or loan balances calculations, harassment, and failure of consumer feedback mechanisms among others.”
These, it said, “have led to significant and understandable consumer aggravation and dissatisfaction.”
To this end, the Commission said it held a meeting with the collaborating agencies, which was attended by the Chief Executive Officer of ICPC, as well as representatives of NITDA, and the CBN in order to check the trend.
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.
FCCP further revealed that “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.”
As a result, “The meeting resolved to collaborate, pursue urgent enforcement action against already known violators while investigating others, as well as criminal prosecutions where applicable. A joint taskforce of analysts and enforcers was also created and immediately activated.”
The Executive Vice Chairman/CEO, FCCP, Babatunde Irukera, therefore thanked the agencies for their “swift responses and willingness to collaborate in addressing what is fast becoming a dominant and abusive practice targeting some of the most vulnerable in the society.”
The partners also acknowledged the services of providers that bridge or close the lending gap to consumers, who would otherwise be ineligible for conventional loans from traditional financial institutions, as well as the scalability and ease of access to financing for many people. However, insisted that “this must occur within legally acceptable parameters of transparency and fairness.”
In furtherance of resolutions from the meeting, and the Commission’s role in coordinating the government’s response, FCCP said it has created a dedicated email address to receive complaints, and or any information about any experiences, identity of businesses or individuals involved in these practices, or any other relevant information that may be helpful to the investigation. The e-mail address is email@example.com