CIBN Tribunal for erring bankers
A report the other day, that the Rules that will guide the operations of The Chartered Institute of Bankers of Nigeria Disciplinary Tribunal (CIBNDT) have been approved by the Federal Government is cheery.
With this approval, the Tribunal is set to commence operations. With this enablement, the CIBN is expected by stakeholders in the banking industry to start addressing the numerous unethical and unprofessional issues its members are being regularly accused of. Going forward, therefore, the Institute will have no justifiable excuses not to bring its erring members to book. This is gratifying to the economy watchers.
As it is well known, Nigeria’s banking industry has for long been beset with acts and practices such as excess charges, unauthorised debits to customers accounts, suppression of credits to avoid payment of interests, etc) unbecoming of members of the noble and highly respected banking profession. Therefore, the advent of the Disciplinary Tribunal (Tribunal) will further strengthen CIBN’s hands in managing the conduct of its members – corporate and individual.
The first level of hands-strengthening for the banking professional body was when in Section 13(1) of the Institute’s Act of 2007, the CIBN Investigating Panel was established to: a) conduct preliminary investigation into any case where it is alleged that a member of the Institute has violated the provisions of the Institute’s Code of Conduct or shall for any other reason be the subject of proceedings before the Disciplinary Tribunal, (b) decide whether the case should be referred to the Disciplinary Tribunal or not.
Besides, the Institute’s hands will be strengthened by the establishment of the Disciplinary Tribunal in Section 13(1) of the CIBN Act 2007 with duties provided in Section 13(7) of the same Act as: Considering and determining any case referred to it by the Investigating Panel.
Given the membership of the Institute, which comprises both corporates and individuals (Sec. 2(1) and that all corporate members shall cause their staff to register with the Institute to foster ethical standards, professionalism and self-regulation in the banking and financial services industry, those who will be answerable to the Tribunal are enormous: all banking institutions (except Central Bank of Nigeria and Nigeria Deposit Insurance Corporation; (see Sec.13(2), CIBN Act 2007) and employees of the institutions (including employees of CBN and NDIC).
It is perhaps, to ensure that leaders in banking institutions lead by good examples or face the Tribunal that section 2(7) of the Institute’s Act specifically provides that “No person shall be entitled to be employed or appointed or engaged to head any of the Technical Departments of a bank unless he is duly registered as a member of the Institute.” Thus, membership of the Institute is compulsory for banks’ top executives. Clearly, this brings banking sector leaders that are handling technical departments within the purview of the Tribunal.
The CIBN will need the assistance and cooperation of all its stakeholders to carry out the responsibility aimed at sanitising the banking industry. In this regard, therefore, all its corporate members (Central Bank of Nigeria, Nigeria Deposit Insurance Corporation, Banks, Development Banks, Discount Houses, Mortgage and Microfinance Banks in Nigeria; Section 22 CIBN Act) must not only ensure they are in compliance with the Banking Industry’s Code of Conduct, Code of Corporate Governance, Code of Ethics and Professionalism and other regulatory provisions but also that their employees are registered members of the CIBN and thus, make them subject to the Tribunal. So, sensitising their employees on the need to perform their duties in accordance with relevant regulations is also an imperative for them.
As for individual members of the Institute, it is in their interest that they be acquainted with provisions of the various banking industry’s Codes and ensure compliance. Their undertaking of the Institute’s professional examinations and certification programmes can assist them in understanding and navigating the land mines in the banking profession. They will be helping their banks, the economy and the Tribunal if they work by the rules.
Customers of banks also have to conduct their banking transactions within what is permissible and thus, earn the right to report any bank employee or indeed, a banking institution that deviates from ethical and professional conduct.
With the approval of the Disciplinary Tribunal rules, members of the banking community should no longer condone, but report verifiable misconducts of banks and their staff to the CIBN for investigation and sanctions, if found wanting. This way, they will be assisting the CIBN in returning sanity into the banking industry.
It is, of course, foreseeable that most bank customers may be incapable or unwilling to go to the extent of reporting misconducts against their bankers. For such customers, they are encouraged to retain or obtain the services of banking consultants to put forward their complaints and secure favourable results.
The experiences the banking community is having with most banks and their employees have been very discouraging. And that accounts for a huge number of persons not channeling their financial transactions through the banking system with the result of several billions of funds finding their way outside the banking system. That situation adversely affects the effectiveness of monetary policies. Now that banks and their employees know that they can be brought to face investigations and sanctions via the CIBN Investigating Panel and Disciplinary Tribunal, respectively, it is hoped that they will be mindful of violating bankers Code of Conduct and other regulatory directives.
What all of these sum up to is that banking institutions in Nigeria and their staff should not, while carrying out their businesses and duties, lose sight of subsisting regulations, in particular the Code of Conduct for CIBN members, which they must comply with. Failure in this regard may cause a petition, investigation and subsequent trial, conviction and sanctions by the Disciplinary Tribunal.
It is, therefore, advisable that the CIBN and members of the Disciplinary Tribunal should, right from the outset, take seriously the issue of bringing unethical and unprofessional bank employees and banking institutions to book. The nation expects nothing less from them.