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Pressure Mounts on Nigerian Government to Scrap Cybersecurity Levy

By Oluchukwu Ikemefuna

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Government under pressure to stop cybersecurity levy. CBN declared the cybersecurity levy, on May 6, to empower the cybersecurity unit in the country.

The policy caused a major uproar in the country and citizens called for the suspension of the cybersecurity levy. These includes The House of Representatives, the Nigerian Labour Congress(NLC), and some members of the Organised Private sector.

They emphasized that the new policy would worsen the economic hardship in the country, among other issues.

In particular, they described the policy as insensitive and requested a complete reversal of the policy. 

Government under pressure to stop cybersecurity levy: Intention of Cybersecurity Levy

In the circular, the apex bank passed to financial institutions and banks, the levy was pegged at 0.5 percent for all electronic transactions. This is in line with the recently passed 2024 Cybercrime (Prohibition, Prevention, etc.) Amendment Act.

According to CBN, the purpose of the levy is to strengthen the nation’s cybersecurity initiatives. The initiatives are supervised by the Office of the National Security Adviser. The levy charged from citizen’s accounts is to be remitted to the office. 

The intention of the charges is great because it is an impressive method of reducing the cybercrime rate in the country. However, prominent Nigerian groups including the Reps and NEF urged the apex bank to withdraw the “ambiguous” circular due to the hardship the country is currently facing. Additionally, the House also directed its committees on Banking Regulations, and other Ancillary Institutions to guide the CBN properly.

Govt under pressure to stop cybersecurity levy: Public and Private Sectors Demand For The Policy Reversal

NLC also stated the levy was a wrong move and demanded an immediate halt to the implementation. Additionally, the Trade Union Congress (TUC) threatened it would shut down the economy if the Federal Government did not scrap the policy.

In Thursday’s session, Chinda who represents the Obio/Akpor Federal Constituency, Rivers State, voiced his opinion. He explained, “The House notes that the wording of the CBN circular leaves the directive to multiple interpretations. One major interpretation is that the levy be paid by bank customers, that is, Nigerians against the letters and spirit of Section 44(2)(a). And the Second Schedule to the Cybercrimes Act, which specifies the businesses should be levied accordingly.”

Government Under Pressure To Stop Cybersecurity Levy

The policy, according to the lawmaker, “has led to uncertainty and fear”. He noted that due to the fear, civil society organizations and citizens have taken to conventional and social media to call out the Federal Government while giving ultimatums for a reversal of the imposed levy on Nigerians among other things.

He asserted that practical steps need to be taken to stop the proposed action of the CBN. This is because the Cybercrime Act was implemented in error at a time when Nigerians were experiencing the aftermath of multiple removals of subsidies.  Ranging from petroleum to electricity subsidy removal. Also from the rising inflation.”

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Abdullahi Kafayat
Abdullahi Kafayat

Abdullahi Kafayat is an enthusiastic writer interested in the tech world. She's a graduate of Obafemi Awolowo University and has a BSc in Chemistry. You can reach her at Kafayatabdullahi17@gmail.com.

Articles: 275

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