Advocacy group sues the Central Bank of Nigeria

Advocacy Group Seeks Injunction Against Unlawful Regulation and Cites Privacy and Free Expression Concerns

In a bold move, the Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has taken the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to court over its controversial regulation mandating financial institutions, including banks and credit unions, to obtain customers’ social media handles. The lawsuit, with case number FHC/L/CS/1410/2023, was filed at the Federal High Court in Lagos, marking a significant legal challenge to the banking sector’s data collection practices.

SERAP’s lawsuit seeks not only the withdrawal of the contentious regulation but also an injunction against the CBN from implementing its provisions. The advocacy group’s argument hinges on the potential violation of privacy and free expression rights of customers, raising concerns about the arbitrary and unjustifiable use of social media data.

The advocacy group, known for its pursuit of social justice and transparency, issued the CBN a stern warning a month ago, demanding the immediate withdrawal of the regulation. With the deadline ignored, SERAP escalated its efforts by taking legal action to safeguard citizens’ rights and protect against potential misuse of personal information.

The contentious regulation has come under scrutiny due to the CBN’s demand for customers’ social media handles or addresses, sparking concerns among civil liberties advocates. SERAP contends that this requirement serves no legitimate purpose and may pave the way for abuse, unauthorized access, and potential exploitation of individuals’ personal data.

Privacy and free expression are at the core of the advocacy group’s concerns, as the misuse of such information could lead to illegal, political, or other unethical practices. By compelling financial institutions to obtain customers’ social media data, the CBN has inadvertently raised red flags about data security and its commitment to protecting citizens’ fundamental rights.

At present, the hearing date for the lawsuit has not been set, but SERAP remains resolute in its pursuit of justice and accountability. The outcome of this high-profile case could have far-reaching implications for data protection and privacy rights in the digital age.

The CBN is yet to issue an official response to the lawsuit, leaving the public eager to witness how this legal battle unfolds in the coming days. As the case gains attention both locally and internationally, the stakes are high, and the eyes of the nation are fixed on the Federal High Court in Lagos, awaiting a landmark decision that could redefine the boundaries of data privacy and the protection of citizens’ rights in Nigeria.