Central Bank of Nigeria(CBN) owes a high duty of care to each and every holder of the E-Wallet account and has a fiduciary duty to all such account holders; and can be held liable for Negligence irrespective of any terms and conditions in the E-Wallet App or website.
By Law, Central Bank of Nigeria is the Apex Bank and regulatory body for all banks in Nigeria. Previously, the CBN is only directly liable to banks and few other entities in regards to the direct management of customer funds, but upon the the introduction of E-Naira, through E- Naira wallet which is under the control of CBN, the liability of CBN in Tort has officially extended to everybody who owns an E-Naira Wallet, and the disclaimer on the E-Naira App absolving CBN of any liability is a mere wishful thinking in Law.
How E-Naira wallet works
The eNaira is provided by the CBN to Banks who will serve as intermediaries (i.e financial institutions) who would in turn help supply to individuals/customers. These Banks will maintain a treasury wallet to collect eNaira from the CBN. They would thereafter oversee ID verification, eNaira payment processing, and generation of wallets for Nigerians to keep their eNaira. Through the app, customers would be able to identify a bank of their choice, connect to their bank accounts and carry out transactions.
Put simply, CBN will fund your bank with enough E-Naira, and your bank will inturn fund your E-Naira wallet to the equivalent amount of money you transfer from your bank account into the wallet. But the E- Naira wallet still remains the property of the CBN for all intent and purpose. Banks came into the picture as mere intermediaries.
CBN’s Liability in Law.
CBN by it’s direct ownership and maintainance of E- Naira wallet and account holders fund has brought itself into a somewhat Bank-Customer relationship and fiduciary duty with every owner of the E-Naira wallet, and as such will be liable for any form of Negligence done by it’s act or immission. Owning an E-Naira wallet is equivalent to opening a Bank account. It automatically puts CBN in a fiduciary relationship with the owners of the account, which thereby elicits a duty of care from the CBN to all E-Naira wallet account holders. Any breach of such a duty of care imposes a liability for negligence on CBN as the owner and backer of E- Naira wallet.
The Law imposed a duty to exercise a high standard of care in managing every E-Wallet account holder’s money on CBN. This duty cannot be dodged or shifted away by mere Terms and Condition on an App or Website.
It is settled law that generally a financial institution in dealings with its customers owes to them a duty of care and thus negligence if proved, is a ground for liability against it by its customer. It follows therefore, that between the CBN and all its E-Wallet customers, negligence will certainly arise where CBN breaches the implied duty to observe the standard expected of a reasonable financial institution, in respect of dealings with the customer’s fund and the onus, of proving that it is not negligent lies on CBN.
In conclusion, CBN cannot dodge Liability by mere terms and conditions stated on E-Wallet App or website. Such desclaimer is not enough in Law to absolve it of the duty of care and fiduciary duty imposed on it by Law. Any Negligence on the part of CBN in dealing with people’s E-Wallet account will definitely make it liable.
Opatola Victor Esq.