The Federal Competition and Consumer Protection Commission announced on Tuesday that it has frozen the bank accounts of more than 30 illegal loan companies operating in Nigeria.
The Executive Vice President of the Commission, Mr. Babatunde Irukera, said so during a press conference in Abuja.
The Commission, as part of a joint operation, closed the offices of some illegal online banks on March 12.
The enforcement team is made up of the FCCPC, the Nigerian Information Technology Development Agency and the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offenses Commission.
Then the Commission said the order became mandatory because it established improper conduct or use of the app in violation of consumer rights.
The Commission’s order also prohibits the acceptance and submission of new applications for the same purposes without regulatory review and approval.
Providing an update on the matter, Irukera said the Commission had ordered Google LLC (Play Store) and Apple Inc. (App Store) to enforce the removal of certain apps belonging to illegal online banks operating in Nigeria.
He added that the FCCPC is currently hiring three major loan companies whose businesses were affected by his raid.
He said: “On the day we carried out the raid, we have some limited information about the bank accounts that some of the loan companies operated.
“All the bank accounts that were provided were immediately blocked, but these companies maintain multiple bank accounts with multiple names.
“Between the time we attacked and now we have discovered 30 additional accounts and all have been frozen and we will continue to freeze as we discover them.
“I am certain that with the actions we have taken and the nature of the engagement we have with loan companies, at least three of the main ones that their businesses have been seriously affected by our research or the closure of their account . edit.
“It will take time, but I can assure you the space is changing.”
THE WHISTLER had reported that the rise of unregulated financial intermediaries such as loan sharks and other online lending platforms had become a tool to intimidate and violate the rights of those seeking their services.
Loan sharks and online lending platforms have flooded the Nigerian market providing quick financial aid to unsuspecting Nigerians
Melody Chinemerem, a student based in Abuja, told THE WHISTLER how her desperation for quick cash to pay her school bills drew her to the network of GoCash, an online lending platform.
In January 2022, Chinemerem who needed 28,000 naira to pay a school bill downloaded the GoCash app and requested an amount to pay his bills.
The victim said the loan was for eight days. The victim suspecting she was going to default said she called GoCash two days before the repayment date, asking for an extension of the warrant.
But Melody, who is in her 20s, alleged an agent at the lending platform declined her request and threatened to notify her contacts if she defaulted.
“They asked me to pay the money before the due date if no message will be sent to my contacts to embarrass me. The next day, my friends and people I hadn’t spoken to in years were contacting me because of a certain message they had received from GoCash about me,” she said.
Melody said the next day she received a message which read, “Beware that the family of Melody Chinemerem Agbo with phone number ‘070255029376’ are ruthless criminals who cheat people with their money on a daily basis.
Currently they are on the run with company money and refuse to pay. Watch out for these thieves as they are wanted by the police.
The next day, another message from them was sent to his contact.
The message reads: “Beware that Agbo’s family are thieves. taking fathers step is bastard daughter melody Chinemerem sans 0702502** who cheated a company out of her money and is on the run watch out for the thief as she is wanted by the police”
The victim added: “In all my life, I have never felt so depressed and embarrassed. Taking that loan in the first place was the biggest mistake I made. I don’t know why they had to drag my father’s name through the mud, tarnish my family’s image, and portray the situation so negatively.
“I paid the money two days after the due date and swore in my life never to take a loan from these online sellers, no matter how urgent the situation”
Miss Mary Ameh, another victim, had told THE WHISTLER about her experience with NCash.
Ameh said she got a loan of 10,000 naira to meet an urgent financial need which she was credited to within minutes of the application being approved.
Like the other victim, Ameh’s loan term was eight days.
She said that on the 7th day she received a call from one of the staff reminding her of the payment.
According to her, she received what she described as “the shock of her life” when her contacts contacted her following a threatening message sent by NCash.