CBN’s Targeted Credit Facility for Covid-19 – Fraud or Incompetence?

When the CBN (Central Bank of Nigeria) announced that it was going to be making about N50 billion available as loans to businesses in what it called the “Targeted Credit Facility for Covid-19”,  a lot of business owners saw it as a lifeline with which to revive their failed or failing businesses.

It’s no longer news that most businesses were hard hit by the lock down instituted by different governments as a result of the global pandemic.

When the program was rolled out, it was introduced by Nirsal Micro Finance Bank, the bank that handles most of CBN’s public loan programs, as “a stimulus package to support households and Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) affected by the Covid-19 pandemic.”

Month’s after this program supposedly kicked off, we are wondering how many Nigerians have been able to access the loan.

What we have found from first hand report and feedback on the Micro Finance Bank’s Facebook page has been interesting.

While the household category appears to have received the full number of applicants it can handle, it appears that the SME category is still on.

There are however numerous complaints regarding the disbursement of supposedly approved loans.

An applicant told African News Today that he had applied weeks earlier when he got an email asking him to send his bank statement for a given period which he did. After sending this document, he got no further communication from the bank.

A few weeks later, he received a number of bank alerts on his mobile. The alerts were from an account he did not know of with NMFB and totaled five in number. These alerts included four debits of sundry amounts totaling N22,000. These had no transaction description.

The credit alert was for the sum of N500,000 which meant that the balance left after all the deductions was N478,000.

He was left confused because he had not received any email or information that any amount had been approved by the bank as loan for him.

He tried to reach the bank and that proved and has continued to prove a futile attempt as the phone numbers given on their site were either unavailable for the most, switched off or not responded to. The email was no better.

After digging around the internet, he found someone complaining about not haven received her funds even after following the steps given in a text she received. Thankfully, she posted a screen grab of the text message which include the following url:

He quickly copied it and went to the webpage where he was asked to input his BVN after choosing his loan category.

After putting his BVN and entering, he was directed to a page that had a loan offer for him. he had applied for N1.5 million but the loan offer was for N500,000, the amount he received in the alert.

He accepted the offer and was then asked to put his bank account details which he did.

As at the time of this post, he had yet to receive the funds.

One is then left to wonder how he was supposed to know he had a loan offer since no text message or email was sent to that effect. Worse still, the bank does not respond to emails, phone calls or even the questions on its site.

What will happen to the funds that have supposedly been disbursed to people who were not informed that they had been given a loan offer? Will the funds be returned to CBN or will some other person use the funds?

A more interesting thing we saw on the bank’s Facebook page is the fact that about two people who said they have received their own funds are now asking how they are to pay back because no information was provided to that effect.

Nirsal Facebook Complaint

The loan offer document did not include any repayment schedule or how repayments were to be made.

There’s obviously something not right here. It is either this bank, which the CBN has chosen for reasons best known to it, is incompetent, or there is some massive fraud going on.

As we post this, numerous applicants who say they have been asked to supply their bank account details have yet to receive the funds even after supplying this information, in some case, for over a week.

Attempts to reach the bank through the numbers provided on its website (09010026900-9) have proven unsuccessful.

In an interview with Channels Television in May, the Managing Director of NIRSAL Microfinance Bank Plc, Abubakar Kure had said that they had difficulties disbursing these funds because of the lockdown in Lagos and some other states. However, this lock down has now been lifted in these states.

He also said that the bank had received about N5 billion from CBN for 5000 applicants.

The biggest issue here is the total lack of communication, whether on purpose or simple the result of ineptitude.

We could not find a single response to the thousands of complaints and questions on their Facebook page.

The case is even worse on Twitter where some users complain of receiving far less than what was approved and what was in their offer letter.

Nirsal Twitter Complaints

This certainly raises more questions – is this another funnel for massive corruption?

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