Senate fires NESG for calling on Buhari to withhold assent on BOFIA Act

Senate fires NESG for calling on Buhari to withhold assent on BOFIA Act

- Senate has warned NESG against misleading Nigerians over BOFIA Act 2020

- NESG had expressed concerns over certain provisions of the BOFIA 2020 amendment

- The red chamber, however, said that concerns expressed by the group have been taken care in the bill

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Following its comments on the amendment to the Bank and Other Financial Institutions Act (BOFIA) 2020, recently ratified by the National Assembly, the Senate has advised the Nigeria Economic Summit Group (NESG) to stop misleading the general public over the act.'s regional reporter in Kaduna, Nasir Dambatta, reports that while reacting to the group's comments, the Senate committee on banking, insurance and other financial institutions, said NESG lacks the moral right to remark on the BOFIA Act.

The group had expressed concerns over certain provisions of the BOFIA 2020 amendment and requested President Muhammadu Buhari to withhold assent until the bill is "properly reviewed, amended and made fit for purpose."

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In his reaction, the chairman of the committee, Senator Uba Sani, described NESG's critique as a shock and disappointment.

Senate fires NESG for calling on Buhari to withhold assent on BOFIA Act
The chairman, Senate committee on banking, insurance and other financial institution, Senator Uba Sani, during a retreat. Credit: Twitter/Uba Sani.
Source: Twitter

He said the National Assembly subjected the bill to the public hearing, adding that stakeholders made written submissions and were present to the NASS to canvass and defend their positions.

Senator Sani said the Senate committee received a total of 32 memoranda, saying that some of the key stakeholders that made written and oral submissions included: Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Nigeria Deposit Insurance Corporation (NDIC), Federal Ministry of Finance, Development Bank of Nigeria (DBN), Money Deposit Banks, Infrastructure Bank, Bank of Agriculture, Chartered Institute of Bankers of Nigeria, Institute of Chartered Accountants of Nigeria, Association of National Accountants of Nigeria, Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).

Others according to him are: Association of Bureau De Change, Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC), National Union of Banks, Insurance and Financial Institutions Employees (NUBIFE), Nigeria Security Printing and Minting Company, Nigeria Labour Congress/Trade Union Congress, FINTECH Development and Advocacy Initiative, Association of Senior Staff of Banks, Insurance and Financial Institutions, Access Bank PLC, Ministry of Communications and Digital Economy, and Finance Correspondents Association of Nigeria (FICAN).

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He explained that committees of both Houses distilled the positions of stakeholders, addressed their key concerns, and incorporated their inputs before submitting final reports to the Senate and House of Representatives.

"It, therefore, beats our imagination that the leadership of NESG that failed its members by refusing to attend a very important public hearing can just wake up from their slumber and condemn a bill that was painstakingly put together and passed by the National Assembly. It is also clear to us that the leadership of NESG has not read the bill.

"They are just acting on hearsay. They may have just picked up some gossips from individuals bent on shooting down the bill for their own selfish or collective interests. The bill did not confer immunity on the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) officials. It does not exempt actions by the CBN from judicial review," he said.

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He said the specific provision of BOFIA 2020 that NESG may have been told confers immunity on CBN is section 12 (6) states that: "Notwithstanding the provisions of this Act or any other enactment, no restorative or like order howsoever described, shall be granted against the bank or the governor in any action, suit or proceedings in relation to the revocation of a licence by the bank under this Act, and the remedy of any claimant or applicant against the Bank or the governor in any such action, suit or proceedings is limited to monetary compensation not exceeding the equivalent of the value of the paid-up capital of the bank at the time of the revocation of its licence.

"This is a new clause, not contained in the existing BOFIA law. The limits of the redress that can be sought/obtained in the event of a challenge of a revocation of a bank’s license was not provided for in the repealed law."

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Senator Sani said the provision does not state that the CBN governor is immune from being sued in the case of revocation of a bank’s license, stressing that the provision restricts the limits of the claims that can be made against the CBN to monetary claims which is subject to the paid-up share capital of the bank at the time of the license revocation.

He said: "It is important to note that the new law does not give the CBN Governor leeway alone in the revocation of a bank’s license.

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"For the benefit of NESG and other groups that may have mischief up their sleeves, BOFIA 2020 contains 130 clauses. NESG failed to quote even one clause. The bill which has broken new grounds seeks to update the laws governing Banks, Financial Institutions and Financial Services; enhance efficiency in the process of obtaining and/or granting of banking licenses; impose stiffer penalties for regulatory breaches in the financial services industry and also regulate the activities of Financial Technology Companies (FINTECHs).

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"If the group means well for the country, it is advised to drop its ill-conceived campaign against presidential assent to the bill. It may wish to consult members of the National Assembly for an Amendment Bill. This is time for stakeholders to work cooperatively in the interest of the Nigerian people."

Meanwhile, had previously reported that the Senate on Wednesday, July 22, passed a bill for an act to repeal the banks and other financial institutions act 2004 and to re-enact BOFIA laws of Nigeria 2004.

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