By Boluwatife Adedokun
In a bid to confront the infringement of citizens’ rights by online banks, known as loan apps, GAVEL, LightRay Media and other media professionals in Nigeria in a recent Media Fellowship Roundatable have joined forces, spotlighting the urgency for stakeholders such as the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) to address privacy violations and abuses rampant in operations and financial frameworks of loan apps.
Data gathered from surveys and interviews shows how Nigerians feel exploited by the advertising messages of employed by loan apps and their use of influencer endorsements to lure the unwary. Many complaning how the Advertising Regulatory Council of Nigeria fail to vet and regulate the hidden misleading adverts churned at Nigerians.
During the insightful “GRAVEL’s Judicial Accountability Expose and Loan App Defamation Deconstruction” discussion, legal consultant Funmi Oderinde emphasized the critical distinction between unlicensed loan apps and investment schemes in Nigeria. Oderinde stressed the need for due diligence before investing and flagged the criminality of operating unregistered investment schemes.
“The Securities and Exchange Commission oversees investments in Nigeria. Due diligence is crucial before engaging with any scheme,” Oderinde emphasized.
Olufemi Ajibade, Operations Lead at GAVEL, urged journalists to amplify their voices in raising awareness and questioned the oversight by the CBN, pushing for action against the operators of these loan apps.
Highlighting the challenges posed by digital money lenders and the limitations of data investigation in Nigeria, Oderinde raised concerns about advertising regulations, questioning why loan apps operated without stringent checks. The team pledged to investigate identified loan apps and take up individual cases.
Lady Eijro Emukoro, LightRay Media Publisher, stressed the media’s role in educating borrowers about timely repayments by clients and reiterated the campaign’s objectives on the solutions Gavel provides to netizens who seek justice on the damage caused as a result of loan app defamation. Ajibade emphasized the necessity of judicial accountability project and its aim to address issues of transparency and advocate for an independent judiciary.
“The project targets inadequacies within the judiciary, advocating for checks and balances and seeking discipline for corrupt practices,” Ajibade explained.
Advocating for the unbundling of the Chief Justice’s office, Ajibade highlighted financial motivations as a potential source of corruption and stressed the importance of judicial financial independence to ensure impartiality.
The call-to-action extended to the public, media, and regulatory bodies to collaborate in combating online platform misuse, ensuring accountability, and safeguarding citizens’ rights. This collaborative effort aims to stimulate systemic change, making the battle against loan app malpractices and the pursuit of judicial accountability a rallying point for collective action toward a fairer justice system.