In 2019, Rebecca Daniel Zamari applied for a N5million loan through the Agri-Business/Small and Medium Enterprise Investment Scheme (AGSMEIS), but did not know the loan had been approved until she received a text message on May 4 asking her to visit any Nirsal Microfinance Bank and fund her account for loan repayment.
When she showed the text to those at the bank, she was asked if she had received any loan. She answered in the negative, saying no one had given her any call regarding any loan. She was asked by the bank to ignore the text message, saying it was not meant for her.
On May 26, she received the same text message, followed by a call from the Central Bank of Nigeria two days later. It was this call that confirmed to her that there was some shady business going on with the money she was supposed to access as loan. The caller told her that there was a loan that was approved in her name, which she was supposed to start paying back. The loan had been approved since December last year but Rebecca had no idea.
Further suspicion was raised when Rebecca told the caller that Nirsal Microfinance Bank had asked her to ignore the message. The caller from CBN asked her to visit Nirsal Microfinance Bank and ask them to check her BVN number, and tell her why she’s not yet received her loan.
At the bank, they confirmed that indeed the N5million loan had been approved and that only N500,000, which had not yet been put in her account, was available.
“So they were checking and discovered that somebody had been transacting business with the money,” Rebecca said. The bank said they would follow up, but have not yet gotten across to her.
The AGSMEIS loan is a Federal Government initiative to promote agricultural businesses. It was part of the government’s efforts at employment generation and economic development. Rebecca needed the loan to expand her production business. She processes tea, tiger nuts and essential oil among other products. The loan comes with an interest rate of five per cent per annum. The loan does not require collateral.
“The step I am trying to take is to write a letter to the Central Bank, since they are aware they have approved a loan to me but I haven’t received it. I want to tell them that I have met the microfinance bank but I have not seen any result about it,” she said.
Rebecca was told that the money was assigned in her name and it would show she is owing CBN.
FIJ reached out Nirsal Microfinance Bank and spoke with Godwin Njam, the Jos Manager who said he was aware of the case and had noticed one or two transactions on Rebecca’s account.
“After discussing with her, we got her BVN and on checking we saw one or two transactions,” he said. “The branch where it happened, we discussed with them because I think there is an issue of mix in the identities. There is a person with the same name in another place.”
He further explained that the issue was being worked on with auditors. “There are times that a digit can cause a distortion in a transaction, or it is possible that in picking somebody’s name they pick somebody’s phone number,” he added.
Njam further stated that if it was an issue of foul play, it would be found out and dealt with. The use of BVN, which should solve the issues of mix-up in identity, doesn’t totally explain why Rebecca’s account was debited twice without the money being in her account yet.