The Federal Government says it has frozen over 30 bank accounts belonging to digital money lenders popularly called loan sharks in Nigeria.
Executive Vice Chairman, Federal Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (FCCPC), Mr. Babatunde Irukera who disclosed this while speaking to newsmen in Abuja, said the move was part of the measures enforced to prevent further operations of the illegal loan sharks in the country.
The FCCPC Vice Chairman stated that “we are freezing more accounts and they are coming in because once we restrict their ability to do business, they will come and they are making commitments.
” It’s likely that there will be further regulatory action but we are getting interim commitment now that they will stop contacting third parties, stop defamatory messages and stop intimidating borrowers”.
Irukera however noted that government was not planning to shut down the lending space due to its financial benefits to Nigerians, but to ensure the businesses comply with standard operational guidelines that is ethical, transparent, fair and devoid of reputational damage.
“We were not looking to close the money lending space, they fill a critical void. In a society such as ours, access to soft or consumer loans that traditional financial institutions will not give is important, all we are saying is that these businesses must be ethical, the interest rate calculation and the loan repayment strategies must be fair” irukera asserted.
According to the FCCPC boss, the operational guidelines is already in the pipeline and will be ready soon.
“For the guidelines to be able to identify everyone in the value chain in the business, just that visibility for us to know who Nigerians are dealing with. The information we are receiving and gathering in the course of investigating is also important to the guidelines we are developing but they are coming shortly”.
The FCCPC Vice Chairman further explained that the raid of locations of the illegal money lenders by the joint task force, comprising of FCCPC, NITDA and ICPC, two weeks ago was a product of three months of surveillance. this he added has encouraged Nigerians to assist with the much desired information required to aid it’s investigations.
“When we put what we were doing out, the response of citizens told us more about the companies, now we have far more addresses without leaving our office than what we got being on the road for three months. that’s the partnership”.