From Noah Ebije, Kaduna

Members of the Coalition of Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) under the aegis of Forum for Good Governance in Nigeria (FGGN) have urged the federal government to reintroduce the Cyber Security Levy, citing its advantages in enhancing the security framework of financial operations in the country.

The CSOs argue that the benefits of the levy outweigh the concerns that led to its revocation. Recall that the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) withdrew the controversial 0.5% cybersecurity levy on electronic transfers just three days before it was supposed to take effect.

The levy faced criticism from financial industry experts who deemed it “regressive” due to the rising cost of electronic transactions amidst high inflation and a cost-of-living crisis. Following pressure from labour unions, the federal government suspended the levy and announced a review.

However, after a one-day review meeting held in Arewa House, Kaduna, with the theme “Economic Implications of Revoking the Cyber Security Levy vis-à-vis the Advantages,” the CSOs have backed its reintroduction, emphasizing its alignment with international best practices.

In a communique jointly signed by the National Coordinator, Comrade Abraham Douglas, and Secretary, Comrade Bala Galadima Ikara, the CSOs representing 28 states in Nigeria reviewed the pros and cons of the levy and concluded that it would significantly enhance the security framework of financial operations.

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They stressed the importance of a secure and trustworthy electronic transaction environment for promoting economic growth and digital financial inclusion. Additionally, they highlighted the levy’s potential to combat terrorism by denying funding sources to terrorists, considering Nigeria’s tarnished global image.

Furthermore, the CSOs commended the CBN for implementing advanced security measures to protect financial institutions and customers from cyber threats and attacks, particularly those perpetrated by “Yahoo Boys.” They emphasized the need to discourage such cybercrimes, which have negatively impacted the lives of many young people.

The communique also highlighted the levy’s compliance with global standards, aligning Nigeria with international best practices in cybersecurity. This, in turn, could enhance the country’s reputation and attract foreign investment by assuring investors of a secure environment for their investments.

In conclusion, the CSOs strongly support the CBN’s circular and letter to all banks dated June 25, 2018 (Ref: BPS/DlR/GEN/ClR/05/008) and October 5, 2018 (Ref: BSD/DIR/GEN/LAB/11/023) respectively, on compliance with the Cybercrimes (Prohibition, Prevention, Etc.) Act 2015. They concur with the enactment of the Cybercrime (Prohibition, Prevention, etc) (Amendment) Act 2024 and the provision of Section 44 (2)(a) of the Act, which stipulates a levy of 0.5% on electronic transactions to be remitted to the National Cybersecurity Fund (NCF) administered by the Office of the National Security Adviser (ONSA).

The CSOs believe that implementing the levy will undoubtedly enhance national security and strengthen cybersecurity, ultimately protecting critical infrastructure and sensitive information.

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