House of Reps asks CBN to go back on its cybersecurity levy, notes it has led to apprehension

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May 9, 2024
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2 min read
  • The House of Representatives has asked the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to go back on its recent directives requiring banks to charge a 0.5% cybersecurity levy on all electronic transactions within the country.
  • Kingsley Chinda, Representative of the Obio/Akpor Constituency, who reportedly moved the motion said that the situation has caused apprehension as groups and citizens are urging the government through traditional and social media to reverse the imposed levy.
  • The CBN directive which involves telecommunications companies, financial institutions, and the Nigerian Stock Exchange, was announced May 6, 2024 and is slated to take effect from Monday, May 20, 2024.

Following the order, operators, including mobile money providers, merchants, and commercial banks, have up to four weeks to complete system reconfigurations to implement remittance.

On the other hand, financial institutions, like microfinance banks, primary mortgage banks, and development finance institutions, were allowed eight weeks to complete the system configuration.

Moreover, the levy will be remitted to the National Cyber Security Fund after institutions charge the fee at the point of electronic transfer origination, reflecting the amount in the customer's account with the narration, ‘Cybersecurity Levy.’

For the institutions involved, failure to comply with the directive would attract a fine of 2% of their annual turnover at a minimum.

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However, the levy does not apply to all electronic transactions like salary payments, loan disbursements and repayments, and intra-bank transfers. Additionally, letters of credit, Treasury bills, bonds, commercial papers, government social welfare programmes, charitable donations, tuition payments, and transactions involving educational institutions are also exempted.

Moving the motion, Chinda said, “the wordings of the CBN circular leaves the directive to multiple interpretations including 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 that should be levied accordingly.”

While stating that the move has led to public apprehension, Chinda also mentioned that unless immediate pragmatic steps are taken against the CBN directive, the Cybercrime Act shall be implemented in error” at a time when the masses in Nigeria are faced with post-multi-subsidy removals from petroleum and electricity.

The Nigerian government removed subsidy on petroleum in 2023, and in April 2024 the government through the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC), announced a significant 240% increase in electricity tariffs for customers under the Band A category. But, recently, NERC announced it is reducing the electricity tariff just a few days after it stopped setting metre prices.


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