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Cybersecurity levy not punitive –Senate committee chairman insists

Cybersecurity levy not punitive –Senate committee chairman insists

Cybersecurity levy not punitive –Senate committee chairman insists

The Senate committee chairman on the cybersecurity levy has set the record straight, saying the levy is not punitive but aimed at protecting national security and the economy.

The Chairman of the Senate Committee on National Security and Intelligence, Senator Shehu Umar Buba, has addressed the controversy surrounding the proposed implementation of the Cybersecurity levy by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN). The levy is provided for in the Cybercrimes (Prohibition, Prevention, etc) (Amendment) Act, 2024.

He clarified that the levy is not punitive as it has numerous exemptions to protect and relieve ordinary citizens, particularly the poor. According to him, the exemptions include salary payments, intra-account transfers, loan disbursements and repayments, and other financial transactions.

Senator Buba, in a statement released on Thursday, said the amendments to the Cybercrimes Act were a collaborative effort with the National Assembly’s ICT and Cyber Security Committee. The committee also underwent a transparent public hearing process, receiving contributions from various stakeholders. Both Houses of the National Assembly unanimously passed it before President Bola Ahmed Tinubu signed it into law.

Senator Buba emphasised that the provisions for the cybersecurity levy have been in place since 2015 but were delayed due to unclear interpretations and applications.

“The Cybercrimes Act of 2015 has provisions for imposing a cybersecurity levy since its enactment, but the vagueness of Section 44 led to different interpretations until the 2024 amendments, which could also be misinterpreted by the general public following the approach of the Central Bank to Implement the effect of the ACT. The levy is 0.5%, equivalent to half a per cent of the value of all electronic transactions by businesses specified in the Second Schedule to the Act.

“The amendments addressed crucial gaps in the Act and empowered the nation to implement the National Cybersecurity Programme effectively. They also seek to realign and empower the country to combat the inadequate funding and disruptive effects of cyber threats on national security and critical economic infrastructures,” he said.

Senator Buba underscored the criticality of the cybersecurity levy’s implementation, stating that its prudent utilisation will bolster the nation’s capacity to evaluate, execute, upgrade, and fortify the security of national critical economic infrastructure, thereby safeguarding the nation’s cyberspace.

He commended the Office of the National Security Adviser and the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) for initiating the operationalisation of the cybersecurity levy, highlighting that its benefits far outweigh its drawbacks and expressed appreciation to the leaders and representatives of MDAs at the federal and state levels and to all stakeholders who contributed to this effort’s success.

While maintaining that the Committee’s mandate is to create laws that align with the aspirations of Nigerians, he appealed for public support, assuring that the policy will yield maximum benefits for citizens in the shortest possible time.

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