Court throws out case against CBN, rules that banks can demand customers’ social media handles

A federal high court sitting in Lagos has struck out a case against the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) over its directive requiring banks to collect and verify social media handles as part of their know-your-customer (KYC) requirement.

Justice Nnamdi Dimgba struck out a suit filed by a Lagos-based lawyer, Chris Eke, seeking a declaration that the regulation as contained in section 6(a)(iv) of the CBN (customer due diligence) Regulations, 2023, is “undemocratic, unconstitutional, null and void”.

The applicant had also asked the court, to grant an order of perpetual injunction, restraining CBN from enforcing the regulation which requires financial institutions, to request customers’ social media handles as part of normal bank customer due diligence requirements.

The CBN, in its response to the suit, filed a notice of preliminary objection, challenging the competence of the suit and disagreeing with the claim of interference with the applicant’s private life.

In his judgment, Dimgba held that the notice of preliminary objection had merit, subsequently striking out the suit. The judge ruled that providing a social media handle is equivalent to providing email and phone numbers for potential customers, and therefore, it does not violate the right to privacy.

According to Justice Dimgba, the essence of having a social media account was for one to be publicly visible communication-wise, and it would be highly unreasonable to hold the CBN in breach of privacy for it.

Furthermore, Dimgba said if the applicant is “irritated by the requirement of the regulation”, he has a choice to “refuse to do business with any bank insisting on the information as part of its social media handle, but to seek other alternatives”.


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