• Excessive taxation without consideration on plight of masses injurious –ADP

• Don’t implement it, ex-MAN chairman urges CBN


More knocks have trailed the introduction of the 0.5 per cent cybersecurity levy on electronic transactions. While the Trade Union Congress of Nigeria (TUC) have threatened a shut down the economy over the plan to begin its implementation, the Action Democratic Party (ADP) and Dr. Wale Adegbite, former chairman, Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN), Ogun chapter, described the policy as an additional burden on Nigerians.

On Monday, the CBN directed all banks to begin charging a 0.5 per cent cybersecurity levy on all electronic transactions within the country.

The directive was contained in a circular jointly signed by the Director, Payments System Management Department, Chibuzo Efobi; and the Director, Financial Policy and Regulation Department, Haruna Mustafa.

The circular was directed to all commercial banks, merchant banks, non-interest banks, and payment service banks. It announced that the implementation would start two weeks from May 6.

“The levy shall be applied at the point of electronic transfer origination, then deducted and remitted by the financial institution.

“The deducted amount shall be reflected in the customer’s account with the narration, ‘Cybersecurity Levy,’” the circular said.

However, some 16 banking transactions were exempted from the new cybersecurity levy.

They include loan disbursements and repayments, salary payments, intra-account transfers within the same bank or between different banks for the same customer, intra-bank transfers between customers of the same bank among others.

By the calculations of the new levy, N5 will be charged on a transaction of N1,000 and N50 on a transaction of N10,000.

Others are N500 charge on a transaction of N100,000, N5,000 charge on a transaction of N1,000,000, and N50,000 charge on a transaction of N10,000,000.

The cybersecurity levy will now be added to already existing bank charges like transfer fee, stamp duty, charges on SMS, and VAT.

The TUC, in a statement by its president, Festus Osifo, described the plan as illogical, coming at a time Nigerians were grappling with high cost of living and urged the Federal Government to direct the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to withdraw its directive to financial institutions on the issue, to avert the shutdown.

The union said such high cost of living was imposed by devaluation of Naira, hyper hike in the cost of petrol, supersonic increment in the cost of electricity tariff, among others.

“We are quite disturbed that since the inception of this administration, its policies have brought pain, anguish and sorrow on Nigerians.

“Whereas, a bank account holder in Nigeria today is currently charged stamp duty, transfer fee, VAT on transfer fee, and all forms of account maintenance levies by both government and the banks, this burden seems not to be enough, as government is poised to inflict further pain on the already battered Nigerians.

“So, many policies of this government are not only imposing hardship on the downtrodden Nigerians but also on businesses, as some of them are shutting down because of the unfriendly business environment, “ he said.

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The union leader expressed fears that the development would further encourage people to hoard cash at home, reduce financial inclusion, increase poverty and exacerbate misery index.

According to him, all Nigerians are interested in right now is the urgent conclusion of discussions around the minimum wage.

“Not a vexatious policy that is further reducing the already depleted disposable income of the masses and indirectly ridiculing the gain which the minimum wage would have brought to the people when concluded,” he added

Mr. Yabaji Sani, ADP national chairman, said at the presentation of Certificate of Return to the party’s Ondo State governorship candidate, Abuja, that successive governments in Nigeria had imposed compulsory levies on individuals and entities, saying, however, that excessive taxation without consideration on the plight of the masses was injurious.

“All over the world the only form of raising funds and revenue by the government is through taxation.If that is the fundamental reason which is accepted universally that the government must tax citizens to earn revenue to develop, provide security and welfare for the people, perhaps the government is in order to levy taxes on people.

“But in our situation, if we look at what is happening today, this government is looking for revenue left, right and center from the wrong place, from the wrong people and at the wrong time.

“With what is happening to our naira, foreign exchange, the level of poverty, unemployment, and suffering due to removal of fuel subsidy, unification of exchange rate, increase in electricity tariff and now the cyber security crime levy.

“It is insensitive to put pressure on the masses when the government knows that the loss of revenue of the country is through the oil and gas sector and not through the Central Bank of Nigeria,’’ he said.

He urged the government to capitalise on the oil and gas sector and other sectors of the economy where resources were being looted and unaccounted for to raise revenue for developmental projects.

‘’These sectors have the capacity to fund the government without mounting pressure on the masses,’’ he said.

Sani also urged the government to put in place policies that would rather protect the masses without necessarily taxing them beyond the reasonable limit.

He said that the cyber security taxation was ill timed and should be reconsidered for the benefits of the citizens, adding also that Nigerians should begin to question the government’s usage of taxes.

Reacting, Dr. Adegbite, said the private sector was already facing challenges arising from high cost of petroleum products, increased food price, high energy tariff and low salary and urged the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) not to implement the new law..

“There is an urgent need for CBN to halt this policy so that it will not add to the challenges being faced by the private sector and Nigerians at large. We are aware that the Federal Government has directed CBN to deduct 0.5 per cent levy for cyber security.

”The question most Nigerians are asking is whether cyber security is our priority at the moment.

”We are at a time when the masses are struggling with inflation and its resultant effect on cost of living, this is not an uaspicious time for such policy,” he said.

The Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has urged President Bola Tinubu to immediately direct the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to withdraw the policy as it patently violates the provisions of the Nigerian Constitution 1999 and the country’s international human rights obligations and commitments.

SERAP also called on him to stop Mr. Nuhu Ribadu and the office of the National Security Adviser (NSA) from implementing section 44 and other repressive provisions of the Cybercrimes Act 2024 as it flagrantly violates the provisions of the Nigerian Constitution and the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights and International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights to which Nigeria is a state party. It urged him “to direct the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mr. Lateef Fagbemi, to immediately prepare and present a bill to amend section 44 and other repressive provisions of the Cybercrimes Act 2024 to the National Assembly so that those provisions can be brought in line with the Nigerian Constitution and the country’s international human rights obligations.”