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No, the Central Bank of Nigeria is not about to revoke the licences of Unity, Keystone and Polaris banks

IN SHORT: After Nigeria’s central bank withdrew the licence of Heritage Bank, an online newspaper reported that the CBN was about to revoke the permits of three other banks. The regulator said the report was fake.

Posts on Facebook have claimed that the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) is set to withdraw the licences of three banks – Unity, Keystone and Polaris

Some of the Facebook posts making this claim include a link to an online newspaper report quoting an unnamed source in the central bank.

The posts claim that the banks’ licences will be revoked because they “have been on life support for a long time and the CBN has no choice than to stop the treatment as they have no chances of survival”.

The claim began circulating a day after the banking regulator announced in June 2024 that it had revoked the licence of Heritage Bank for breaching Nigerian banking laws

The central bank said that Heritage’s board and management had failed to improve the bank’s financial performance, posing a threat to financial stability.

As required by law – the Banks and Other Financial Institutions (BOFI) Act Amended – the Nigeria Deposit Insurance Corporation was appointed to liquidate the bank.

The liquidation of a bank is the process of closing it down and distributing its assets to pay off its debts. This usually happens when a bank becomes insolvent, meaning it can no longer meet its financial obligations or continue to operate.

In January 2024, the CBN sacked the boards of two of the banks at the centre of the online allegations – Keystone and Polaris. Another, Union Bank, also had its board removed. 

The regulator accused the banks of non-compliance with some regulations, corporate governance failures and “involvement in activities that threaten financial stability”.

We found the claim posted in a public Facebook group with over 16, 400 members and another post in a Facebook group with over 10,200 members. (Note: See other instances of the claim at the end of this report). 

But has the central bank decided to withdraw the licences of Unity, Keystone and Polaris banks?

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CBN debunks the claim

Hours after the claim began circulating, the CBN flagged it as fake on X (formerly Twitter) and Facebook.

The report at the centre of the claim was later described as false and intended to cause panic in a statement signed by CBN spokesperson Hakama Sidi Ali.

“The Nigerian financial system remains safe, sound, and resilient,” Ali said. 

The country’s banks are submitting plans to strengthen their capital bases, as required by the country's banking sector recapitalisation programme, she added.

“These plans are currently being reviewed by the Bank.”

The Central Bank of Nigeria is not about to revoke the three banks’ licences. Such false allegations can have damaging effects, including loss of depositor confidence, market disruption or low staff morale.

The false claims also appeared here and here.

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