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There was disorder in most banking halls across Lagos as a considerable amount of customers that either forgot to register or link their accounts to their bank verification number (BVN) were unable to transact business. It was pretty much the case as the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) announced the extension of the deadline for Nigerian bank customers in the Diaspora to enroll for their BVN to January 31, 2016.

An announcement by CBN Director, Corporate Communications, Alhaji Ibrahim Mu’azu, clarified that the extension was to enable the customers in the Diaspora complete the enrollment exercise and also link their BVN with their respective accounts.

Those that were affected not able to make withdrawals through ATMs and as a result of this, a lot of banking halls in Lagos were crowded monday.

The customers affected mostly were also those with more than one bank account as the bankers said some of them failed to link their BVNs with their accounts.

A customer of Guaranty Trust Bank Plc (GTBank), Mr. James Uzor account was barred over the BVN issue.

“I registered for my BVN in Ado-Ekiti and when I got to Lagos, I was told that the enrollment I did in Ekiti was not successful and I was asked to register again. But to my surprise, my account was blocked this morning and I couldn’t make any withdrawal,” he said.

Findings showed that the situation was the same at other bank branches visited at Okota and Apapa areas of Lagos as banks had a lot of customers’ complaints over BVN to address.

But GTBank in a notice to its customers titled: “Temporary Restriction of Your Account,” said it took the action in line with the CBN’s directive that all accounts without BVN belonging to customers resident in Nigeria, should be restricted from debit transactions.

“Please note that this category of GTBank accounts without BVNs have been restricted from debit transactions effective Sunday, November 1, 2015. As a result of this, your account with us has been classified as having inadequate Know-Your-Customer (KYC) and can only receive transfers and deposits. Payments or cash withdrawals from such accounts have been restricted.

“Please note that your account with us is still valid as the restriction placed on your account is temporary, and will be automatically removed once you enroll for your BVN at any of our branches nationwide or link a BVN to your account. BVN enrollment will continue in all our branches nationwide after the 31st of October 2015 deadline,” the bank added.

However, the Director, Banking and Payment System Department, CBN, Mr. Dipo Fatokun, appealed to bank customers to be patient.
“The challenge we are having is not something to worry about. Even if your account has been restricted probably because you have not linked it, all you need do is go to an ATM or do it through internet banking. Some banks even have phone number(s) for BVN linkage. So, this is not something to worry about,” Fatokun said.

Muazu however expressed satisfaction with the progress made in the implementation of the BVN project, especially for accounts operated by residents of Nigeria.

“However, with the expiration of the October 31 enrollment deadline, the CBN has directed that bank accounts of Nigerian residents without the BVN would henceforth be operated as ‘No Customer Initiated Debit’ account, until the account holders obtain and attach BVNs to the accounts. This means that a customer may not be allowed to withdraw money from his or her account until the BVN has been acquired and linked to the account,” he said.

The CBN statement clarified that accounts of Nigeria residents without BVN would continue to receive cash and electronic credit inflows and would neither be deactivated nor confiscated.

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