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CBN asked to withdraw regulations on customers’ social media handles

Acting CBN Gov.-Folashodun-Adebisi-Shonubi

Acting CBN Governor, Mr Folashodun Adebisi Shonubi

Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has urged Mr Folashodun Shonubi, Acting Governor, Central Bank of Nigeria (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.”

SERAP also urged him to “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.”

According to Section 6(a)(iv) of the CBN Regulations, banks and other financial institutions “shall identify their customer and obtain information on the social media handle of the customer.” Section 6(b)(iii) contains a similar provision.

In the letter dated 24 June 2023 and signed by SERAP deputy director Kolawole Oluwadare, the organisation said: “The CBN Regulations and directive to banks to obtain details of customers’ social media address violate Nigerians’ rights to freedom of expression and privacy. It is inconsistent and incompatible with the rule of law.”

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SERAP said, “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.”

According to SERAP, “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.”

The letter, read in part: “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.

“The mandatory requirement of social media handles or addresses of customers does not serve any legitimate aim. Such information may be used to unjustifiably or arbitrarily restrict the rights to freedom of expression and privacy.”

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