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Nigerians in London, United Kingdom, have expressed frustration over the compulsory payment of £30 (about N10, 000) for the registration of the Bank Verification Number, as directed by the Central Bank of Nigeria.
Apparently sad over their plight, some of them during the week stormed the Nigeria High Commission in London to protest against the directive of the apex bank. Others took to the social media to vent their anger.
The CBN had recently extended the deadline for the BVN registration from June 30 to October 31, 2015 as disclosed in a circular issued to all deposit money banks operating in the country.
The Director, Banking and Payment Systems Department of the CBN, Mr. Dipo Fatokun, said the extension became imperative in order to give bank customers more time to participate in the enrolment exercise.
The circular had read in part, “It has come to our notice that the BVN registration has elicited tremendous interest from the Nigerian banks’ customers who crowded the banking halls in order to beat the deadline.
“Furthermore, there is the need to give Nigerian banks’ customers in the Diaspora ample time to enrol on the programme. The guideline for their enrolment is being finalised and will be released soon.”
Though the BVN registration in Nigeria is free, Nigerians living in London have had to part with N10, 000 to enrol on the exercise.
The directive was said to have been issued by the apex bank, as confirmed by the UK chapter of the All Progressives Congress and Zenith Bank.
The APC, UK chapter, had asked the bank on Twitter about the authenticity of the directive and the bank replied, saying, “The letter is genuine. The fee is as communicated by CBN and the enrolment company was contracted by the CBN. We trust this helps.”
Meanwhile, a user of a popular blogging platform, Nairaland, by the name klem93, said he was shocked to have seen photos of Nigerians thronging the Nigeria High Commission in London in frustration.
He wrote, “I thought it is going to be smooth sailing as I read that BVN for Nigerians in London had begun. I didn’t know it is going to be the same way as it went in Nigeria. A reader of my blog who lives in London wrote me an email: ‘The Nigeria High Commission in London needs an urgent overhaul. This afternoon, we Nigerians were treated like animals in Fleet Street, London, all because we wanted to do BVN for those of us who have accounts in Nigeria.
“Things soon became chaotic and someone called police on us. They allowed us to converge on the street and then locked us out. We were also being forced to pay £30.00 each, but none of the officials or the website could explain what the money was meant for. Is it not free in Nigeria?”
Eleojoe23, another user of the platform, protested, “£30? What for? They truly deserve an explanation. Maybe the high commission thinks that since they live in London, they should have enough money to spare. Do they think people just go out and pick money on the streets in London?”
Another user of the platform, Julioralph, said, “30 pounds for what? Members of staff at the high commission should be changed. Even the CBN is at fault as well; they don’t have proper plans for those abroad concerning this BVN stuff.”
Attempts to get the comment of the ministry’s spokesperson, Ogbole Ahmedu-Ode, were not successful as he could not be reached on the phone. He also did not respond to a text message that was sent to him.
But investigations at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs showed that the ministry was not involved in the BVN registration held in the UK.
A highly placed official in the ministry explained that the Nigeria High Commission in UK was not involved in the BVN registration, stressing that it was handled by a private firm which has no relationship with the embassy.
The source said that the high commission officials saw the posters advertising the BVN registration in London like other members of the public, noting that the “BVN registration was the private affair of a private company.”
“Neither the Ministry of Foreign Affairs nor the Nigeria High Commission in the UK was involved in the BVN registration; the programme was handled by a private company which has no relationship with the ministry or the high commission,” the official said on Friday.
Also, the Director, Corporate Communications Department, CBN, Mr. Mu’azu Ibrahim, could not be reached for comments as repeated calls made to his mobile phone did not connect.