SERAP Challenges CBN’s Directive on Customers’ Social Media Information

SERAP Challenges CBN’s Directive on Customers’ Social Media Information

…By Dorcas Funmi for TDPel Media.

The Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has taken legal action against the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) concerning its directive to obtain customers’ social media handles for identification purposes.

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In a suit filed at the Federal High Court in Lagos with number FHC/L/CS/1410/2023, SERAP seeks to compel the CBN to withdraw the directive, delete the unlawful provisions, and refrain from enforcing them.

The organization argues that the requirement of social media handles violates citizens’ rights to freedom of expression and privacy.

Unlawful Provisions on Customers’ Social Media Handles:

SERAP challenges the CBN’s circular, which mandates banks and financial institutions to collect information on customers’ social media handles.

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They argue that this requirement lacks a legitimate aim and can potentially be used to unjustly restrict freedom of expression and privacy rights.

The organization asserts that existing means of identification, such as passport, driver’s license, BVN, and TIN, are sufficient and that the additional requirement is unnecessary and disproportionate.

Seeking Relief and Protection of Rights:

In the lawsuit, SERAP seeks an order of mandamus to compel the CBN to withdraw the directive and delete the unlawful provisions from its Customer Due Diligence Regulations, 2023.

Additionally, the organization requests an order restraining the CBN from implementing or enforcing the directive.

They emphasize that unless these reliefs are granted, the CBN may infringe upon citizens’ fundamental rights to freedom of expression and privacy.

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Constitutional and Legal Grounds:

SERAP’s legal team, led by Kolawole Oluwadare and Ms. Blessing Ogwuche, argues that the mandatory requirement of social media handles for customer identification goes against the Nigerian Constitution.

They point to Section 39, which guarantees the right to freedom of expression, and Section 37, which protects the right to privacy.

The organization contends that obtaining such personal information is intrusive and not necessary for proper customer identification.

Concerns of Overreach and Discretion:

Highlighting the availability of other identification methods like passports, driver’s licenses, BVN, and TIN, SERAP raises concerns about potential overreach and excessive discretion given to banks and financial institutions.

They argue that these existing means are sufficient for Know Your Customer (KYC) purposes and that the social media handle requirement is unnecessary and poses risks to citizens’ privacy.

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Conclusion:

SERAP’s legal action against the CBN’s directive on customers’ social media handles aims to protect the fundamental rights of Nigerians.

The organization asserts that this requirement lacks a legitimate purpose, is intrusive, and may lead to unwarranted restrictions on freedom of expression and privacy.

By seeking relief through the court, SERAP strives to ensure that citizens’ rights are safeguarded, and undue intrusions into their personal information are prevented.

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