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Reps task NSA, CBN to sensitise Nigerians on cybercrime levy

16th May 2024

The House of Representatives has called on the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria the Central Bank of Nigeria and the Office of National Security Adviser to carry out further enlightenment on the Cyber Crimes Act and implementation of the 0.05 per cent levy and correct the wrong impression that the levy is to be charged on individuals.

The resolution of the House was sequel to a motion of urgent public importance brought on the floor of the House by the Minority Leader of the House, Kingsley Chinda, and seven others on the “Urgent need to correct the wrong perception of the House Of Representatives’ position on implementation of the Cybercrimes Act” at Tuesday’s plenary.

There have been conflicting reports, particularly in the social media, on whether the levy is to be paid by individuals or institutions; a development that elicited the intervention of senior lawyer, Femi Falana, who earlier in the week, maintained the 0.5 per cent levy had nothing to do with individuals.

Leading the debate on the motion on Wednesday, Chinda who represents Obio/Akpor Federal Constituency, Rivers State recalled that on May 9, 2024, the House considered a joint motion on the implementation of the Cybercrimes (Prohibition and Prevention) Act, 2015 as amended in 2024 and resolved to direct the CBN “To withdraw the ambiguous circular of May 6, 2024 and in its place, issue an unambiguous and unequivocal circular in line with the letters and spirit of the law and directed the House Committees on Banking Regulations and Ancillary Institutions to guide the CBN properly.”

Despite this directive, the lawmaker noted that “The media space was awash with the wrong impression that the House of Representatives was against a law passed by her, which impression painted the House in bad light.

He said: “The Cybercrimes Act imposes a levy of 0.05 per cent (0.005) on some establishments enumerated in the second schedule to the Act, that occupy the cyberspace; do business therein and make profit therefrom,” adding that such business concerns was the target of the Act, not individuals.

“The levy does not apply to ordinary Nigerians but only to the establishments listed in the second schedule to the Act, which includes Global System for Mobile Communication Service providers and all telecommunication companies; Internet Service Providers; Banks and other Financial Institutions; Insurance Companies; and Nigerian Stock Exchange.

“Order 20, Rule 93 (2) (b) of the House Rules provides that ‘in the event of joint oversight on issues relating to cybersecurity, the Committee on National Security and Intelligence shall work with the Committee on Digital and Information Technology. In such cases, the Committee on National Security and Intelligence shall be the lead Committee”, he added.

Explaining further, Mr Chinda said, “Our role is to make law and once there is an attempt to abuse the law that we made, it is necessary that we take a clear decision and that is what I have called on us to do today.

“Now, if in the course of implementation, we find out that the implementers, that is, the executive arm, are abusing it; we come back to amend it. But we cannot at this stage amend by way of motion.

“All we are doing is to caution the executive arm. This side, the content of the law we made, in cause of execution, does not task Nigerians directly or indirectly. If we find out that there are indirect taxes, it is justified for us to come back here and amend the law and see how we can improve on what we have done. Therefore, all we are doing today is to continue to enlighten Nigerians because many of them are still not aware that this law does not apply to them, but those who are making profit from cyberspace.

“If the people feel otherwise, it is our duty to come back and amend that portion and if possible, remove it.”

Ruling on the motion, the Deputy Speaker, Benjamin Kalu, who presided over plenary in the absence of the Speaker, Abbas Tajudeen, said, “By this, it means that the House of Representatives is standing by the law it made on cyber security. We are standing with the government that is interested in ensuring that we are protected on what we can see with our physical eyes and what happens within the Cyberspace.”

The House through a voice vote unanimously adopted the motion and mandated its Committees on National Security and Intelligence, Digital and Information Technology, Justice, Digital Economy, and Electronic Banking to superintend over the implementation of the House resolution of May 9, 2024 on the Cybersecurity levy, with the committee on National Security and Intelligence as the lead the committee.

Meanwhile, a civil society organisation, Nigerian First Project has commended the Federal Government for coming up with the 0.05 per cent cyber security levy.

Speaking at an event organised by the group in Abuja on Wednesday, Coordinator of the body, Hamza Saulawa, Coordinator, Nigeria First Project, Comrade Bishir Dauda, and Director, Research and Documentation, Bishir Unguwa-Katsina, called on all patriotic Nigerians to rally behind the Federal Government in its quest to rid the nation of any vestige of criminality, cyber crimes and terrorism inclusive.“In the face of growing cybercrimes in Nigeria with its attendant consequences on our nation, we find the ongoing hysterical vicious campaign against the cybersecurity levy incongruence with the desire of many patriotic Nigerians to see that our hitherto country’s good image is restored.“It is obvious that the conversation is being manipulated by the section of the minority vocal elites to look as if the levy is imposed to punish the masses. This is happening despite the clarification made by the Chairman, Senate Committee on National Security and Intelligence, Senator Shehu Buba. We feel that this kind of debate in which many take an extreme end is not helpful at all.“We urge all Nigerians to objectively and without any prejudice, examine this landmark clause -cybersecurity Levy in its entirety. They would surely see its great prospects to our country,” they said in a joint statement.According to the organisation, “It is important for Nigerians to note that cybercrime is not only undermining Nigeria’s economy, but also has continued to tarnish our image globally. Today innocent Nigerians all over the world are being unfairly treated with suspicion at airports, embassies,motorparks,etc.“Indeed, it is so embarrassing that whenever there is a discussion about cybercrime anywhere, the first people who come to minds are Nigerians. Many innocent Nigerians are being embarrassed, humiliated and profiled because of the activities of cyber criminals.

“Many Nigerians have lost golden opportunities, because of this terrible phenomenon,” they further said.


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