Tinubu halts controversial cybersecurity levy on electronic banking

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In a move that has been widely welcomed, President Bola Tinubu has officially put a stop to the contentious 0.5% cybersecurity levy on digital banking transactions.

The announcement was made by Mohammed Idris, the Minister of Information and National Orientation, who stated that the decision was taken after careful consideration by the Federal Executive Council (FEC).

Idris revealed this information at the State House in Abuja, following the FEC meeting on Tuesday. He emphasized that the cybersecurity levy was a topic of intense discussion at the meeting, and assured that President Tinubu is fully aware of and responsive to the sentiments of the Nigerian people.

It’s worth remembering that on May 6, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) had issued a circular mandating a 0.5 percent ‘Cybersecurity Levy’ on all electronic transfers. The circular, penned by the Director of Payment Services, Uzoma Efobi, was disseminated to all banks and payment service operators across the country, with the directive that deductions would commence in the following two weeks.

This levy elicited a strong response from both institutions and individuals alike. Consequently, on May 9, the House of Representatives called on the CBN to retract the directive, citing its ambiguity. This resolution was passed following a motion by Kingsley Chinda and 359 other lawmakers. Chinda expressed that this act had caused widespread apprehension, leading to civil society organizations and citizens voicing their concerns on various media platforms and demanding a reversal of the ‘imposed levy on Nigerians’.

The controversial levy was based on an earlier circular dated June 25, 2018, and October 5, 2018, which called for compliance with the Cybercrimes (Prohibition, Prevention, Etc.) Act 2015. The circular stated 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.” The CBN had also emphasized that “The deducted amount shall be reflected in the customer’s account with the narration, ‘Cybersecurity Levy’.”

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