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Reps Halt Implementation of Cybercrime Levy

The Nigerian House of Representatives has instructed the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to suspend the implementation of the cybersecurity levy, which was introduced under the Cybercrime Act15. The decision came after a motion moved by Minority Leader Kingsley Chinda, who highlighted that the Act specifies entities such as GSM and telecom companies, Internet providers, banks, and others to pay the levy.

The House declared that the CBN misinterpreted the Act, stating that it does not place the burden of payment of the cybercrime levy on bank customers. The House therefore directed the CBN to withdraw the circular and issue a new one in line with the law.

What is the Cybersecurity Levy?

The CBN has implemented a 0.5% levy on electronic transactions known as the “Cybersecurity Levy”. This move, under the Cybercrimes (Prohibition, Prevention, etc) (Amendment) Act 2024, aims to enhance cybersecurity measures and protect individuals and businesses from cyber threats. Financial institutions will deduct the levy at the point of electronic transfer initiation, and it will appear as a “Cybersecurity Levy” in customers’ accounts. The implementation of the levy is expected to begin within two weeks from the date of the CBN circular.

Reasons for the Cybersecurity Levy

The Cybersecurity Levy is an offshoot of the Cybercrimes Act law that was passed by the Nigeria Senate in 2015 to strengthen the country’s cybersecurity space. The newly implemented policy aims to facilitate, train, and strengthen the structural weaknesses within the scope of Nigeria’s digital system.

According to the 2021 World Bank Cybersecurity report on Nigeria, despite an increase in cyber attacks, Nigeria has only 8,352 cybersecurity experts, one of the lowest in the world. The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) reported that 80% of the 978 convictions it secured as of September 2021 were based on cyber fraud. Another report by the Nigerian Inter-Bank Settlement System (NIBSS) indicates that within nine months of 2020, fraudsters made 46,126 attempts to breach data-based systems, with 41,979 being successful, representing 91% of the time.

Exemptions and Concerns

Certain transactions are exempt from the Cybersecurity Levy, such as loan disbursements and repayments, salary payments, intra-account transfers, government social welfare programs transactions, non-profit organization accounts and transactions, and educational institutions’ transactions. any Nigerians are concerned about the Tinubu-led administration’s fiscal and monetary policy implementation since its inception, as charges like the newly implemented stamp duty, interest rate, and many more levies may hinder business growth and discourage people from e-banking.

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