Nigerian banks may start collecting customers’ social media handles after a court ruling

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May 20, 2024
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2 min read
CBN building
  • The Federal High Court in Lagos has upheld a provision of the Central Bank of Nigeria's (CBN) Customer Due Diligence Regulations 2023 that requires banks to collect and verify customers' social media handles as part of the Know-Your-Customer process. 
  • “For all it is worth, I do not see how asking a banking or potential banking customer to provide his social media handle can ever amount to a breach of privacy,” Justice Nnamdi Dimgba, the Judge, said.

This comes after Chris Eke, a Lagos-based lawyer, filed a lawsuit against the CBN, claiming that the regulation is undemocratic, unconstitutional, and violates a section of the 1999 Constitution.

While the applicant requested that the court grant a perpetual injunction prohibiting CBN from enforcing the aforementioned regulation, CBN, in a notice of preliminary objection, challenged the suit’s competence, claiming that the regulation does not violate the applicant's privacy.

The CBN regulation, which was issued in 2023, was said to help combat financial crimes and terrorism while also increasing the thoroughness of customer identification. Section 6 (IV) of the CBN regulation requires Nigerian financial institutions to collect and verify customers' social media handles as part of the Know Your Customer (KYC) process, to improve customer identification accuracy and depth.

Per Justice Dimgba, the applicant's claims that the requirements of the CBN Regulations violate his right to privacy are very ambitious. “The said regulations are directed to and apply to financial institutions. It does not apply to private individuals such as the applicant,” he said.

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He also stated that, while the applicant's claim could be argued, it is speculative because he did not state that he has a financial institution account and was asked to provide his social media handle. 

Besides, he stated that there is no evidence of financial institutions implementing the regulation and causing public disruptions, which would have justified the lawsuit as a public interest case. 

However, the applicant may refuse to conduct business with banks that require social media handles, citing the constitutional right to privacy (Section 37 of the Nigerian Constitution).

The judge also stated that providing a social media handle is the same as providing an email address, phone number, and other details. Consequently, he dismissed the suit.


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