SERAP sues CBN over regulation on social media handles
Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has sued Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) over failure to delete provisions in the CBN (Customer Due Diligence) regulation directing banks to obtain information on customers’ social media handles for the purpose of identification.
CBN had, last month, issued a circular that mandated banks and other financial institutions to implement and comply with mandatory provisions on customers’ social media handles.
In the suit, number FHC/L/CS/1410/2023, filed last Friday at the Federal High Court in Lagos, SERAP is seeking an order of mandamus to direct and compel CBN to withdraw its directive, dated June 20, 2023, to banks and other financial institutions to obtain information from customers’ social media handles.
SERAP is also seeking an order of mandamus to compel CBN to delete the provisions of Section 6 of its Customer Due Diligence regulations, 2023 for being inconsistent with Section 39 of the Nigerian Constitution 1999 (as amended) and Article 9 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights.
The anti-corruption group is also seeking an order restraining CBN from carrying out or giving effect to the provisions of Section 6 of its Customer Due Diligence regulations, 2023 directing banks and other financial institutions to obtain information from customers’ social media handles.
In the suit, SERAP is arguing that the mandatory requirement of social media handles or addresses of customers does not serve any legitimate aim; as such information may be used to unjustifiably or arbitrarily restrict rights to freedom of expression and privacy.
The organisation is also arguing that, unless the reliefs sought are granted, CBN will implement and enforce the directive, in contravention of citizens’ rights to freedom of expression and privacy.
According to the body, there are other means of identification, such as passport, driver’s licence, Bank Verification Number (BVN), and Tax Identification Number (TIN), which banks and other financial institutions already require customers to provide.
It is arguing that the additional requirement fails to meet demands of legality, necessity, and proportionality.
No date has been fixed for hearing of the suit.
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