The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has been urged to withdraw the request seeking other customer information like social media handles for the purpose of further identification.
It was gathered that the CBN also mandated the financial institutions to get e-mail addresses, telephone numbers, places of birth, and other vital information of their customers.
The apex bank disclosed this in its newly released ‘Central Bank of Nigeria (Customer Due Diligence) Regulations, 2023’ document.
According to the CBN, the new directive forms part of its new customer due diligence regulations and is in a bid to further deepen the identification process in the banking system.
However, in its reaction to the new CBN directive, Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has called on the Acting Governor, of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Folashodun Shonubi, to immediately withdraw the circular from which the directive was given.
SERAP in a letter dated June 24, 2023, and signed by SERAP deputy director of the organisation, Kolawole Oluwadare, asked the CBN to “immediately delete the patently unlawful provisions in the Central Bank of Nigeria (Customer Due Diligence) Regulations directing banks to obtain information on customers’ social media handles for the purpose of identification.”
”Withdraw the Circular number FPR/DIR/PUB/CIR/007/076 of 20 June 2023 mandating banks and other financial institutions to implement and comply with the unlawful mandatory provisions on customers’ social media handles in the CBN Regulations,” the CBN boss was told.
The group continued by saying “The CBN Regulations and directive to banks to obtain details of customers’ social media addresses violate Nigerians’ rights to freedom of expression and privacy. It is inconsistent and incompatible with the rule of law.
“The CBN ought to contribute to the advancement of respect for the rule of law and human rights in the discharge of its statutory functions, and not undermine or violate these fundamental legal requirements and standards.
“The purported mandatory requirement would inhibit Nigerians from freely exercising their human rights online. If obtained, such information may also be misused for political and other unlawful purposes.
“We would be grateful if the recommended measures are taken within 3 days of the receipt and/or publication of this letter. If we have not heard from you by then, SERAP shall take all appropriate legal actions to compel you and the CBN to comply with our request in the public interest.
“CBN Regulations and directive to banks and other financial institutions would impermissibly restrict the constitutional and international rights to freedom of expression, privacy and victims’ right to justice and effective remedies”.
“Requiring social media handles or addresses of customers as a means of identification would have a disproportionate chilling effect on the effective enjoyment by Nigerians of their rights to freedom of expression and privacy online.
“The CBN bears the burden of justifying any restriction on people’s freedom of expression and privacy. Under the Nigerian Constitution 1999 [as amended] and human rights treaties to which the country is a state party, any restrictions on these rights must be applied strictly so that the rights are not put in jeopardy.
“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 their customers to provide.
“The additional requirement of obtaining details of a customer’s social media handle or address fails to meet the requirements of legality, necessity, and proportionality.”