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Data breach: Wema Bank opening illegal, unsolicited ALAT accounts for consumers

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Wema Bank Plc, one of Nigeria’s struggling financial institutions is in the news again for the wrong reasons as some customers of the bank have accused the lender of conducting illegal banking practices in the country.

They said they discovered that the bank and its agents had allegedly been opening unauthorized accounts for customers with information or data in the bank’s possession.

The financial institution, led by Ademola Adebise, has allegedly been opening accounts for some Nigerians on its digital banking platform, ALAT, without their knowledge or consent in a bid to celebrate its 5th anniversary.

While the actual number of unauthorized accounts opened on behalf of unsuspecting Nigerians is unknown, Wema Bank was aiming to achieve “a million accounts in one day”.

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Wema Bank, in a mail, claimed the unauthorized accounts were opened for certain persons “to celebrate with us” despite not informing them ahead or receiving approval to create the accounts.

This illegal banking practice is similar to that of Wells Fargo, a United State bank, which was accused of opening 1.5 million accounts without authorization, with over 565,000 credit cards applied for, allegedly without customers’ consent.

About 5,300 employees at Wells Fargo were sacked for opening the illegal accounts, and the company was fined $185 million by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau in the United States.

The unauthorized Wells Fargo accounts were only uncovered by the affected persons when the accounts started accumulating debt from bank charges on the unsuspecting individuals.

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Just as the sacked Wells Fargo employees were said to have indulged in fraudulently opening sham accounts to beat target, Wema Bank vendors and marketers may have used the same strategy to achieve the lender’s anniversary target.

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That Wema Bank is expected to also place a financial burden on the unsuspecting persons through account maintenance costs, from which the lender generated about N2.10 million last year, surpassing N1.24 million in 2020.

Recently, Mental Health Advocate, Adebayo Tayo, took to his Twitter account to publicly accuse Wema Bank of opening an account in his name without authorization from him.

Tayo lamented that he never knew he had a new Wema Bank account until his mother contacted him because she received an alert that was intended for him – shocking, how come he owns an account he’s unaware of, and his mom receives the alert.

“I am concerned about how my info had been used by Wema Bank and I need detailed explanations about the account including every transaction it has performed before someone uses my details for an account to launder money or collect ransom, he stated.

Following a probe into Tayo’s claim, this newspaper discovered he was not the only one whose identity was used by the financial institution, to open accounts on its digital banking platform, ALAT, without the knowledge or consent of the individuals.

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Another affected Nigerian is Oyenike Ojo, whose name was used to open an account. However, when money was sent to the account, the alert details showed another name, Oluseyi Bamgboyi as account owner – which means two different names seem to have been used to open one account.

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Ojo’s husband said something was shady about the account, “What I said is, the current name on the account number in my screenshots is not my wife’s name. If you look at that screenshot, the account was opened with my wife’s name and a new account number.

“She also got a credit alert notification via SMS with the new account number. This shows that her details were used to open that account. However, I tried to do a transfer to that account this morning when I read the news only to see that the account name is Oluseyi Bamgboye and not Oyenike Ojo (which is my wife’s name). Something is definitely fishy”, he explained to Ripples Nigeria.

Ojo said his wife has an account with Wema Bank which she hasn’t used for about seven years, and the new account created in her name doesn’t seem to carry the same number as her old account.

He stressed that the unauthorized accounts opened are “definitely an inside job.”, stating, “Customer’s details are compromised and they are being used to open new accounts. Whether by marketers so as to meet targets of the number of accounts opened, or for money laundering, I can’t tell.”

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Ojo asked for an investigation into the illegal accounts opened by Wema Bank, saying the situation is questionable, “How Oyenike Ojo’s savings account opened without her permission has now become Oluseyi Bamgboye’s account is definitely questionable.” Ojo said, expressing his worry.

Another name used to open an unauthorized account, Abimbola Fakoyejo, disclosed that he was still wondering about his unused account on ALAT when he saw a message notifying him that an account has been opened in his name.

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Wema Bank also did not immediately respond to our inquiry on the matter.

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Crime

Inspector sentenced to death for killing phone dealer

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The Delta State High Court sitting at Asaba on Tuesday sentenced Inspector Ubi Ebri of the Nigeria Police Force to death on a murder charge.

The court presided over by Justice C. D. Diai convicted and sentenced the Inspector to death for killing a phone dealer, Mr Onyeka Ibeh, in Asaba.

 

Also read: Delta police arrest inspector for shooting boy during stop and search

 

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Ibeh, a popular phone dealer in Asaba, along with his wife was driving from Ugbolu to Asaba on April 5, 2023, when they were flagged down by the police team for a search.

The deceased was said to have stopped but after waiting for a while to be searched, and they were not being attended to, decided to move away

Infuriated by the action of the deceased, the police inspector immediately opened fire into the vehicle and the bullet hit the late Ibeh on the head and he died on the spot.

The wife of the deceased who sat in the front seat was unhurt.

The killing of the phone dealer led to protests by youths along the streets of Asaba and to police headquarters to demand justice.

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However, the prosecution, led by a director in the Ministry of Justice, Mr E.H. Edema, accused the policeman of killing Ibeh.

Edema alleged that the defendant was part of a police patrol team that mounted a stop and search exercise on April 5, 2023, along the Ugbolu Asaba Road in the state capital.

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Edema who told Journalists after the judgement said, “Today’s judgement is a landmark judgement because justice has been served in this case to the deceased and society at large.”

Also, the elder brother of the deceased, Mr Ifeanyi Ibeh, who witnessed the judgement, also commended the court for delivering justice to his family.

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Crime

Terrorists kidnap travellers along Maiduguri-Kano Highway

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Suspected Boko Haram terrorists have abducted scores of travellers along the Maiduguri-Kano highway.

According to Theheute, the insurgents abducted the passengers on Monday evening between Garin Kuturu and Mannanari village near Auno along the Damaturu highway.

 

Also read : Terrorists attack Yobe military base, kill soldier

 

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It was learnt that the insurgents reportedly blocked the highway before forcefully abducting some passengers, while other commuters had to return to Benishek and Auno, respectively.

“There was an incident between Mannanari and Garin Kuturu where some Boko Haram fighters came out to block the upcoming vehicles and some passengers were abducted.

“We are not sure of the number as we speak but certainly there was an abduction on Monday evening,” the source told the newspaper.

Residents also narrated that commercial drivers took refuge in their community during the attack by bandits between Garin Kuturu and Mannanari villages.

“They came out with three wheelbarrows and I believe they were looking for foodstuff. We don’t know how many people were abducted but some commercial drivers came back and later returned to Maiduguri before reinforcement of military arrived.”

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Also speaking, a passenger, who craved anonymity, said he and others were stranded along the highway for hours.

He said: “We were heading for Kano from Maiduguri when the driver got hinted about the attack and took a detour

“We have been waiting for the military to clear the road but we don’t know when. We are stranded here.”

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Crime

2,545 security personnel killed in four years, says group

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2,545 security personnel killed in four years, says group

The Advocacy Centre for Development has lamented the killing of 2,545 security officers, and 17,886 civilians and the abduction of 15,597 persons from 2019 to 2023.

Disclosing this on Friday in Gombe State at the end of a one-day roundtable engagement with stakeholders on National Day of Mourning, the Convener and Team Lead, Ibrahim Yusuf, blamed the political class for the wanton killings.

Also read : Over 87 FCT residents killed, 176 kidnapped under Tinubu – Investigation

 

This year marks the 7th National Day of Mourning, as declared by the Joint Nigeria Crisis Action Committee on May 28, 2018.

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The day was called to denounce the level of impunity and frequency of violent killings in the country.

A statement in 2018 by Chidi Odinkalu, Yemi Adamolekun, Abiodun Baiyewu, Ier Jonathan-Ichaver and Auwal Musa (Rafsanjani) on behalf of the Co-Ordinating Committee of JN-CAC said the day of national mourning would witness a set of activities for remembrance, solidarity and awakening to the challenges confronting the nation.

Speaking on the seventh edition in Gombe, Yusuf decried the reckless use of the military in civil matters, calling for an end to killings and abductions in the country.

Yusuf said, “The killing of 2,545 security officers and 17, 886 civilians as well as abduction of 15,597 persons from 2019 to 2023 across the country were the clear absence of political will.”

While lamenting the surge in atrocities against women, children, Persons with Disabilities, students, teachers and the most vulnerable, schools and institutions of learning, he regretted that the government appeared unwilling to take urgent action to protect the demographics.

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“The armed forces are deployed in all 36 states of Nigeria on internal security operations, thereby retrenching the constitutional role of the Nigeria Police Force. This is a constitutional anomaly. The rise in fatalities from military operations shows that the military is over-stretched. This cannot continue.

“Here in Gombe State, we have issues of farmer/herder clashes in some communities of the state during the rainy season and we are calling on the state government and the security agencies and the traditional institutions to do the needful, without fear or favour, by putting an end to the issues of unrest in the state,” he said.

He lauded as timely, the establishment of the Ministry of Internal Security and Home Affairs and and the inauguration of Operation Hattara and Gombe Security Traffic and Environmental Corps by the Gombe State Governor, Inuwa Yahaya.

“As Nigerians bleed, we have come together on this seventh National Day of Mourning to ask the people in authority to take urgent steps in preventing the menace,” he said.

The group, in a 10-point communique signed by Saidu Malala, chairman; Abubakar Jibrin, member; and Garba Ubale, member; asked communities to participate in providing useful, timely and accurate information to security operatives.

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It called for the reactivation of the roles of traditional institutions in society and, the reintroduction of educational marshals in schools to guard against drug abuse, youth restiveness and other social vices.

It added, “Religious leaders should at all times preach the gospel of peace, tolerance and mutual understanding in their places of worship.

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“Operators of social media handles and platforms should refrain from posting unverified information that may trigger friction between communities.

“Conventional media have been described as key players in sensitising the public on the importance of peaceful coexistence.

“Proactive measures to be taken by both security operatives and citizens in bringing lasting peace in the country.

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“The roundtable also emphasised peaceful coexistence among communities, irrespective of the diverse ethnic, cultural, political and religious settings in the country.”

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