Law News
Odinkalu, Others Challenge Reintroduction of ATM Charges
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Chairman of the Governing Council of the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), Dr. Chidi Odinkalu

The Chairman of the Governing Council of the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), Dr. Chidi Odinkalu and two others have filed a suit against the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) at the Federal High Court in Abuja to challenge the legality of the  decision to reintroduce charges on cash withdrawals from a different bank’s automated teller machine, ATM, after the third use in a month.

Other plaintiffs are Seember Nyagher and Chukwuma Chinaka both of A&E Law Partnership, Abuja.
They are asking the court to determine whether the CBN’s directive contained in a circular issued on August 13 which reintroduced N65 charge was in the national interest.

The apex bank, and the governor, Mr. Godwin Emefiele, as well as the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mohammed Adoke, are defendants.
The plaintiffs also asked the court to determine whether the procedure of issuing the directive by the CBN and Emefiele was compatible with their role as regulators of the financial services and banking system in Nigeria under the provisions of the CBN Act 2007.

They also want the court to determine whether the CBN and Emefiele had the right, power and privilege to issue such a directive.

In their statement of claim, they asked the court to determine whether the CBN and Emefiele’s directive of August 13 did not amount to unlawful expropriation of private property without compensation in contravention of Section 44 of the 1999 Constitution.

They asked the court to declare that the directive to reintroduce the charge  without their consent was unconstitutional, null and void, and in violation of Section 44(1) of the 1999 Constitution.

They also asked the court to declare that the directive by the CBN and Emefiele that ATM cash withdrawals accessed at the cost N65 per withdrawal from the 4th remote-on-us transactions by them and other bank customers in a month was null, void and of no effect.

The plaintiffs demanded an order of the court setting aside the directive as well as directing the CBN Emefiele to  direct all banks and other institutions to stop collecting the charge immediately.

In the affidavit deposed to by   Nyager in support of the application, she  said she had a savings Account with Guaranty Trust Bank, (GTbank), and was issued a MasterCard ATM Debit Card.

She said she was also aware that Mr. Chinaka has a savings account with Diamond Bank and was issued a VISA ATM Debit Card while Mr. Odinkalu has an account with Standard Chartered Bank and was also issued an ATM Debit Card.

According to her, as a result of the ATMs of their banks being “very limited and most times out of service for undisclosed reasons,” they often were forced to patronise other banks’ ATMs for cash withdrawals.

According to her, the charges amount to the CBN and Emefiele rewarding the banks for their limitations and inefficiencies to customers’ detriment.

She said it was unjust for them to be  charged each month for no fault of theirs.

She also said the directive by the apex bank to banks to charge them for such service each month amounted to punishing them for the inefficiency and limitation of their banks.

Nyager also said the CBN directive was too onerous for them, as they did not have the economic capacity to bear the cost of their banks’ inefficiency and limitations.
The CBN had  in its circular of August 13 to all banks announced the re-introduction of ‘Remote-on-Us’ ATM cash withdrawal transaction fee.

The CBN said the transaction fee for cash withdrawal on remote-on-us would be N65 per transaction to cover the remuneration of switches, ATM monitoring and fit-notes processing by acquiring banks.

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