…Nigerians react


By Abiodun OBA


Barely a week after, the Federal Government implemented deduction of ‘Stamp Duty’, the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, has again directed 0.005 percent Cybersecurity Levy deductions on electronic transfers.

A circular issued by the CBN, on Monday, directed the deductions would become effective from the next two weeks.

The circular, issued by the Director of Payment Services, Uzoma Efobi, was addressed to all banks and payments services operators in the country.

According to the CBN, the deductions shall be applied at the transaction origination.

They will be put together and paid into the Cybersecurity Fund held by the CBN.

The apex bank warned that a defaulting institution could be fined to the tune of not less than two (2) percent of its annual turnover.

However, interbank transfers and loans transactions were exempted from the CBN cybersecurity levy.

The circular was a follow-up on an earlier letter dated June 25, 2018 (Ref: BPS/DIR/GEN/CIR/05/008), and October 5, 2018 (Ref: BSD/DIR/GEN/LAB/11/023), on compliance with the Cybercrimes (Prohibition, Prevention, Etc.) Act 2015.

It noted that “Following the enactment of the Cybercrime (Prohibition, Prevention, etc) (amendment) Act 2024 and under the provision of Section 44 (2)(a) of the Act, a levy of 0.5 per cent (0.005) equivalent to a half per cent of all electronic transactions value by the business specified in the Second Schedule of the Act, is to be remitted to the National Cybersecurity Fund which shall be administered by the Office of the National Security Adviser.”

Also, CBN stressed that “The deducted amount shall be reflected in the customer’s account with the narration, ‘Cybersecurity Levy’.”

However, the CBN listed 16 banking transactions exempted from the new cybersecurity levy.

They are:

Loan disbursements and repayments.

  1. Salary payments.
  2. Intra-account transfers within the same bank or between different banks for the same customer.
  3. Intra-bank transfers between customers of the same bank.
  4. Other Financial Institutions instructions to their correspondent banks.
  5. Interbank placements.
  6. Banks’ transfers to CBN and vice-versa.
  7. Inter-branch transfers within a bank.
  8. Cheque clearing and settlements.
  9. Letters of Credits.
  10. Banks’ recapitalisation-related funding – only bulk funds movement from collection accounts.
  11. Savings and deposits, including transactions involving long-term investments such as Treasury Bills, Bonds, and Commercial Papers.
  12. Government Social Welfare Programmes transactions e.g. Pension payments.
  13. Non-profit and charitable transactions, including donations to registered non-profit organisations or charities.
  14. Educational institutions’ transactions, including tuition payments and other transactions involving schools, universities, or other educational institutions.
  15. Transactions involving bank’s internal accounts such as suspense accounts, clearing accounts, profit and loss accounts, inter-branch accounts, reserve accounts, nostro and vostro accounts, and escrow accounts.

Meanwhile, the Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project has issued a warning to the Federal Government to reverse the 0.5 per cent cybersecurity levy imposed by the CBN.

SERAP also threatened to deal in legal action against the government if it failed to reverse the levy within a 48-hour timeframe.

The non-governmental organisation stated this Tuesday via its Twitter handle, calling for the immediate reversal of what it regarded as levy ‘imposition’.

SERAP tweep @SERAPNigeria stated, “The Tinubu administration must immediately withdraw the grossly unlawful CBN directive to implement section 44 of the Cybercrime Act 2024, which imposes a 0.5% ‘cybersecurity levy’ on Nigerians.

Some other Nigerians have also taken to X, a social media platform to react to the directives.

A netizen, @OnyxEyefee said, “If Nigerians do not protest this criminality, I wonder what more needs to happen before they wake up from their trance.

“This is an illegal tax that must not be allowed to see the light of day. Nigerians should call their reps in the national assembly to push back on this asap!

Also, @tonia_isfine noted that “Looks like I’ll go back to using my old savings box. This banking lifestyle don cost.”

@kisiithefoodie posted “It’s funny how this is just the beginning. He said, “…We will expand the tax net…”, and y’all thought he wouldn’t do it?

@billsuntai posted “Why rip the masses? This definitely goes beyond 0.5% by the time commercial banks add their costs of collection and remittances to it, it’ll definitely go up between 2 – 3%. A govt that does not provide adequate healthcare, education, welfare, road, electricity etc.

“And guess what, all the money collected goes to the office of the National Security Adviser (NSA).”

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