Banks CEOs decry debtors’ smear campaign
The Committee of Banks’ Chief Executive Officers in Nigeria has condemned the action of bad debtors who now resort to smear campaigns against banks and their chief executives in order to either delay repaying loans or avoid meeting their debt obligations completely.
The Body of Banks CEOs, as the group is known, during a meeting in Lagos, to review what it described as the “harassment and criminalisation of banks’ CEOs by law enforcement agencies”, noted that chronic bank debtors are now in the habit of enlisting law enforcement agencies including police, judiciary and state security to harass members.
It added that this was unacceptable, especially when these loan defaulters are known to have abused court processes, as well as using social media to propagate their smear campaign against the banks.
In a communique issued after the meeting, they noted that these activities by the law enforcement agencies and the bank debt defaulters were capable of adversely affecting the banking system through the CEOs reputation among international banks, destroy the economy, and called for these to be checked and managed.
To tackle the assesses emerging threat to banking business in Nigeria, the Committee of Banks’ CEOs, therefore, outlined a five-step resolution of actions that banks would need to take, which were arrived at after members discussed and considered different options for dealing with the issue.
Specifically, the banks’ CEOs said there was an urgent need for all banks to cooperate and collaborate to identify and ex-communicate chronic debt defaulters.
“This goes beyond publishing names of such defaulters in national media (which is inevitable), but involves all banks speaking with ‘one voice’ and sharing information about those entities, and refusing to do further business with them until they settle their obligations”, the communique noted.
To avoid the kind of crisis that rocked the banking sector 10 years ago, the CEOs urged all agencies and stakeholders to step up and help fight the inherent menace of chronic loan defaulters.
According to them, the banking industry is the backbone of the Nigerian economy, therefore, it is the responsibility of all stakeholders – regulators, police, judiciary, corporate organisations and media to help save it from activities of delinquent debtors.
Besides, the group resolved that all cases of defaults would be presented and passed through the Bankers’ Committee Ethics Committee just as it intends to work with legal councils and come up with ways and strategies to manage related cases effectively without disrupting businesses and the system.