Connect with us

Top Story

Account enrollment: Court validates CBN’s regulation, permits collection of customers’ social media handles

Published

on

…Dismisses concerns, says social media handles not protected by privacy rights

…Financial institutions cleared to collect social media handles for KYC

By Sodiq Adelakun

The Federal High Court in Lagos has ruled in favour of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) in a case challenging the regulation that requires financial institutions to collect their customers’ social media handles as part of the Know-Your-Customer (KYC) procedure.

Recall that the Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) had urged the court to compel CBN to withdraw its directive to banks and other financial institutions.

However, in the ruling, Justice Nnamdi Dimgba struck out the suit filed by Lagos-based lawyer, Chris Eke, who argued that the regulation violates the right to privacy of bank customers.

Eke had sought a declaration that the regulation contained in Section 6(a) (iv) of the Central Bank of Nigeria (Customer Due Diligence) Regulations, 2023, is undemocratic, unconstitutional, null, and void, as it contradicts Section 37 of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended). However, Justice Dimgba ruled that the regulation does not breach the right to privacy of bank customers.

The CBN regulation is targeted to enhance customer due diligence and anti-money laundering measures, and requires banks to collect social media handles, among other personal information, from their customers.

The applicant had asked the court to grant an order of perpetual injunction, restraining CB 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. The apex bank also disagreed that the said regulation constitutes any interference with the private life of the applicant, as claimed.

The judgment came as Justice Dimgba dismissed a suit, stating that the notice of preliminary objection held merit and consequently struck out the case.

During the proceedings, Justice Dimgba emphasised that providing a social media handle is akin to furnishing email addresses, phone numbers, and other contact details for banking purposes.

He argued that such information aids in conducting due diligence to ascertain if an individual is suitable for conducting business with a bank.

Justice Dimgba further explained that the essence of having a social media account implies a willingness to engage in public communication, thus rendering privacy concerns unfounded.

According to him, “First, the Applicant claims that the requirements on the CBN Regulations for financial institutions to request and collect the social media handle of its customers as part of KYC infringes on his right to privacy.”

“This claim is very ambitious and amounts to a very far throw.  The said Regulations are directed to and apply to financial institutions. It does not apply to private individuals such as the Applicant.

“Even if, as appears to be argued, that the Regulations itself would inevitably affect the Applicant, this claim is speculative for the simple reason that in nowhere in the affidavit in support was it stated that the Applicant operates an account with a financial institution and that the said institution had demanded his social media handle.  So the suggestion that he would be affected by this Regulation, albeit negatively, is very speculative and at large.

“Secondly, there is also no deposition to the effect that any financial institution had begun to implement this Regulation and that its implementation had begun to create disruptions and inconvenience against the general population, in which case one could infer that the suit should be legitimated as a public interest litigation.

“Thirdly, assuming even that the banks had begun to implement these regulations, the applicant assuming he maintained any bank accounts or sought to open one, but is being hindered or irritated by the requirement of the Regulation to avail his social media handle as part of KYC, the Applicant still had a choice, which is to refuse to do business with any bank insisting on the information as part of its social media handle, but to seek other alternatives.

“Fourthly, and 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.

“Granted that Section 37 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (as amended) provides inter alia: The privacy of citizens, their homes, correspondence, telephone conversations and telegraphic communications is hereby guaranteed and protected.

“My view is that the provision of a social media handle is of the same genre as the provision of email address, phone numbers and other means by which a potential customer of a bank can be contacted.

“Thus, it is clear from the face of the Regulations as set out above that email addresses, phone numbers and social media handles are all provided for under clause 6iv just to show that the aim was not to pry on anyone but rather to provide alternative ways by which a customer of the bank can be contacted, and or due diligence conducted on the person to determine if the person is a fit and proper person to extend banking services to.

“I do not see how this infringes on the right to privacy. I should even say that the essence of having a social media account was for one to be publicly visible communication-wise.  It, therefore, appears quite ironic, though wryly, that one can suggest that asking for information about a social media handle with which the individual exposes and immerses himself or herself in the public, can amount to a violation of privacy rights, which rights itself is all about isolation of one from public glare.

“It is also to my knowledge that even in filling some business applications,  personal information of this sort, is sometimes requested, and parties generally oblige. If it does not constitute a breach of privacy, why should it now?

“A social media handle is left at large for the world to see, being in the public space, everyone enjoys the liberty to have access to it whether or not consent was obtained. It would be highly unreasonable to hold the Respondent in breach of privacy for what other persons have access to.

“The apprehension of the Applicant of his social interactions being monitored is manifestly speculative in itself and rather incredulous to believe that the financial institutions have the luxury of time to concern itself with such frivolities.

“On the whole, if I did not sustain the NPO, I would have dismissed the suit for the reasons stated. But the NPO having been sustained, the suit is therefore hereby struck out.”

Continue Reading
Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Top Story

Anxiety as Rivers Govt issues ultimatum to LG Chairmen to vacate councils

Published

on

…Police tighten security, as youths dare Chairmen to resume

By Barth Ndubuwah, Port Harcourt

Anxiety has gripped Rivers State following the ultimatum issued to Local council Chairmen to vacate their offices following the expiration of their tenure.

Some youths on Monday prevented the Chairmen from resuming at the office while singing war songs, appeared battle ready as they insisted that they would not allow the chairmen to remain in office after serving out their tenure.

The angry youths said they will remain there to ensure the outgoing local government chairman does not return to the council.

Singing in their local dialects, the youths chorused that the council chairman has failed, saying, ‘He is a failure. You must go.’

At Asari-Toru Local Government Area, hundreds of youths stormed the council headquarters in Degema and occupied the facility.

Many of the youths were seen in different groups in front of the secretariat and the entire stretch of the road leading to the entrance, even as some could be heard saying, ‘Asawana’ a popular slang among the Ijaws which signifies solidarity, even as others arrive the scene in droves.

The youths said they will remain until Wednesday when work resumes and dared the council chairmen to come to the secretariat.

Reports from the 23 LGAs indicate that the Chairmen of councils, councilors and the entire council workers did not turn up for duties given  the fact that yesterday was a public holiday to mark Eid-el-Kabir.

NewsDirect  gathered that ex-agitator and warlord, Alh Asari Dokubo and his boys had as early as 6am besieged headquarters of the three Kalabari local government areas of Asari-Toru,Akuku-Toru and Degema, baricading  their gates to prevent the chairmen and their aides from gaining access into the council premises.

Asari was quoted to have told the outgoing chairmen to go home, as their tenures have expired.

It was also reported that the Police  took over the council headquarters of Port Harcourt City, Obio-Akpor and Ahoada East local government areas, possibly to prevent breakdown of law and order in the State.

This came on the heels of threats from some council chairmen that they won’t leave office at the expiration of their tenures.

Notable among them were Ikwerre Council Chairman, Samuel Nwaosike,Emohua- Council Chairman, Dr Chidi Lloyd  and Eleme Chairman, Abarilor Mate Ollor.

However, feelers from the closed door stakeholders meeting at Government House, presided over by Gov Siminalayi Fubara indicated that the Council Chairmen will be given up to 12midnight today to vacate their seats,or risk the consequence of disobedience.

Responding to the perceived political instability that may erupt, the Commissioner of Police in the state, Olatunji Disu, declared his readiness to protect the lives and properties of the people of the state.

Speaking in Port Harcourt, Disu warned individuals against taking the law into their hands. He stressed that anyone found doing so would face the full wrath of the law.

Disu said, “My job as a police policeman is to protect lives and properties. And that is what we have gone out to do since morning.

“We are aware of the crisis that has to do with the tenure of the Local Government Chairmen and we have gotten one court order or the other.

“And the Court of Appeal has given an order for everybody to exercise restraints till the 20th of this month — just three days.

“So we expect everybody to respect it and not take laws into their hands and allow peace to continue as it is,” he said.

Continue Reading

Top Story

Fidelity Bank ranked amongst top banks in ESG Rating

Published

on

By Seun Ibiyemi

A recent survey commissioned by the Independent Project Monitoring Company (IPC) Limited has ranked Fidelity Bank Ple fourth out of 29 Nigerian banks in Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) practices and reporting. The bank achieved a score of 57.73 percent.

The result shows that ahead of Fidelity Bank, Zenith Bank was ranked first at 65.22 percent, followed by Access Bank at 60.33 percent and Stanbic IBTC Bank at 60.16 percent.

The United Bank for Africa (UBA) was ranked fifth at 57.19 percent.

In a post hosted on MSN.com, the IPC stated that the ratings were benchmarked against the leading global ESG rating companies such as S & P Global and MSCI Sustainability Ratings.

These weightings were determined following a comprehensive analysis of both global rating standards and the specific nuances of the Nigerian business landscape, resulting in allocations of 13 percent for environmental factors, 43 percent for social factors and 44 percent for governance factors.

In his welcome address at the launch of the ESG report in Lagos, Managing Director IPM C, Mr Robert Ode Odiachi, said the Nigerian banking and insurance sector have played key roles in the economic stability of the country.

He said in the midst of growing challenges facing the two sectors, there is a growing need for banks to integrate Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) practices into their operations especially in the area of risk management and reporting.

“This proactive approach helps them stay adaptive to changing regulations, amidst the rising expectations of consumers,” he stated.

Also speaking at the event themed, ‘Driving Impact: Harnessing ESG for Sustainable Finance,’ Rukaiya el-Rufai, Special Adviser to the President on NEC and Climate Change, said companies that prioritise ESG are not only contributing to a more sustainable and an equitable world but are also positioning themselves for value creation that not only ensures greater financial performance but embeds value levers that will sustain the performance.

According to el-Rufai, corporates must ensure that they attain the fine balance of creating sustainable value for their enterprises as well as for society in what is understood as share value creation.

This means that corporates must look beyond themselves to seek to understand and incorporate what value means to their stakeholders.

“Corporates can leverage frameworks, standards, ratings and guidelines to establish clear expectations and avoid blind spots in their operations.

“Companies that proactively address these issues through sustainable practices, such a s reducing carbon footprints, investing in renewable energy and promoting circular economies, are better positioned to thrive in a resource-constrained world,” she stated.

It would be recalled that in November 2023, Fidelity Bank became an official signatory of the UN Principles for Responsible Banking — a single framework for a sustainable banking industry developed through a collaboration between banks worldwide and the United Nations Environment Programme Finance Initiative (UNEPFI).

Ranked as one of the best banks in Nigeria, Fidelity Bank is a full-fledged commercial bank with over 8.3 million customers serviced across its 251 business offices in Nigeria and the United Kingdom as well as on digital banking channels.

The bank has won multiple local and international awards including the Export Finance Bank of the Year at the 2023 BusinessDay Banks and Other Financial Institutions (BAFI) Awards, the Best Payment Solution Provider Nigeria 2023 and Best SME Bank Nigeria 2022 by the Global Banking and Finance Awards; Best Bank for SMEs in Nigeria by the Euromoney Awards for Excellence 2023; and Best Domestic Private Bank in Nigeria by the Euromoney Global Private Banking Awards 2023.

Continue Reading

Top Story

Cholera outbreak: Lagos Island records highest number of 106 suspected cases — Commissioner

Published

on

By Sodiq Adelakun

Lagos State Commissioner for Health, Prof. Akin Abayomi, has disclosed that Lagos Island has recorded the highest number of suspected cholera cases, with 106 cases out of 350 suspected cases in the state.

The Commissioner made this known through his official social media account on Monday, while providing an update on the state’s cholera outbreak.

According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), cholera is a highly infectious disease caused by the ingestion of food or water contaminated with the bacterium Vibrio cholerae.

If left untreated, cholera can lead to severe acute watery diarrhoea and even death within hours.

Prof. Abayomi confirmed that laboratory tests have confirmed the outbreak to be caused by cholera, with the identified strain being highly aggressive and contagious, posing a significant risk of widespread dissemination.

The Commissioner’s disclosure has raised concerns about the potential spread of the disease in the state.

Speaking on morbidity and mortality, Abayomi disclosed that 350 suspected cases of cholera were reported in 29 wards across multiple local government areas (LGAs) in the state.

According to him, there are 17 confirmed cases and 15 fatalities attributed to severe dehydration caused by delayed presentation at health facilities.

The commissioner further said that the geographical distribution of suspected cases by LGAs revealed that Lagos Island was the epicentre of the outbreak with 106 cases; followed by Kosofe 49; Eti-Osa 38; Lagos mainland 30 and Ojo 17.

Other LGAs affected are Ikorodu 16; Kosofe 16; Shomolu 11, Surulere has nine; Apapa -eight; Mushin-eight; Ifako Ijaiye -eight; Mushin -five; Alimosho -four; Ajeromi Ifelodun -four; Oshodi-Isolo -three; Ikeja three; Ibeju Lekki -two; Badagry -two; and Amuwo-Odofin -one.

“Through community-based case finding and contact tracing, we have observed that the number of cases has peaked and is now significantly declining,” he said.

He stressed that the state was intensifying its public health prevention campaigns to prevent a resurgence.

According to him, suspected cases are receiving free treatment at the state’s public health facilities, in line with public health response protocols.

Abayomi said that the state was receiving support from the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), and International partners, including the World Health Organisation (WHO) and UNICEF.

He added that local non-governmental organisations are actively involved in raising awareness and conducting community-based surveillance efforts.

On cholera causes and transmission, Abayomi disclosed that cholera is caused by contaminated water and food and transmission common in areas with inadequate water treatment, poor sanitation, and insufficient hygiene.

He said that common symptoms include severe diarrhoea, vomiting, dehydration, rapid heart rate, low blood pressure, thirst and muscle cramps.

“Symptoms can appear within a few hours to five days after infection,” he warned.

On prevention measures, Abayomi advised citizens to drink safe water that’s boiled, treated, or bottled and eat food that’s thoroughly cooked and hot, and avoid raw foods.

He advised citizens to maintain high hygiene by washing hands with soap and clean water regularly and using proper sanitation facilities and disposing of waste properly.

Speaking on treatment, Abayomi stressed that immediate action on rehydration was key, adding that oral rehydration salts (ORS) are crucial.

He added that medical treatment would be required for severe cases that may require intravenous fluids and antibiotics.

Abayomi advised the public to seek prompt medical help if symptoms occur and report any suspected cases to health hotlines: 08023169485 08137412348, or call 767 or 112.

Continue Reading

Trending