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Senate panel defends 0.5% cybercrime levy | #cybercrime | #computerhacker


The Chairman of the Senate Committee on National Security and Intelligence, Shehu Buba, has said the implementation of the 0.5 per cent cyber crime fee on transactions was not meant to punish Nigerians but to protect national security and the Nigerian economy.

Mr Buba, the senator representing Bauchi South Senatorial District, stated this in a statement on Thursday.

The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), on Monday, directed banks operating in the country to start charging a cybersecurity levy on transactions.

The payment of the levy is a provision in the Cybercrime (Prohibition, Prevention, etc) (Amendment) Act 2024.

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 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 the Office of the National Security Adviser shall administer.

Many Nigerians have criticised the levy on the ground that the CBN is attempting to impose another tax on Nigerians.

The House of Representatives on Thursday directed the Central Bank of Nigeria to halt the implementation.



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The resolution was sequel to a motion of urgent public importance moved by the Minority Leader of the House, Kingsley Chinda.

In his statement, Mr Buba said the cybersecurity transaction levy is put in place to protect and relieve ordinary citizens, particularly the poor.

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The senator said the amendment of the cybercrime bill was considered by the two chambers of the National Assembly before it was passed and subsequently signed by the president.

“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” he said in the statement.

He explained that the provisions for the cybersecurity levy ought to have been implemented since 2015 but it was 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. 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.

READ ALSO:UPDATED: Reps ask CBN to halt implementation of 0.5% cybercrime levy

“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 added.

Mr Buba commended the office of the National Security Adviser and the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) for initiating the implementation of the Act.

FIND THE FULL PRESS STATEMENT BY THE SENATE COMMITTEE BELOW.

THE NATIONAL ASSEMBLY FEDERAL REPUBLIC OF NIGERIA 
SENATOR SHEHU BABA UMAR CHAIRMAN, SENATE COMMITTEE ON NATIONAL SECURITY & INTELLIGENCE
National Assembly Complex: Three-Arms Zone P.M.B 141, Garki-Abuja Room 2.15, Senate Building, National Assembly, Abuja   

    

1)My attention has been drawn to controversy in a section of the media regarding the pronouncement by the Central Bank of Nigeria on the implementation of the Cybersecurity levy as provided for in the Cybercrimes (Prohibition, Prevention, etc) (Amendment) 2024.  

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2) This statement would not have been necessary but for the fact that the amendments of the CYBERCRIMES (PROHIBITION, PREVENTION, etc.) ACT (2015), was midwifed by this Committee which I chair in robust collaboration and synergy with ICT and Cyber Security Committee of the Senate and the need to put issues. This is also for the need to put things in right perspectives so as to avoid fallacy of hasty generalization.

3) It should be noted that the amendments meticulously carried out was done in the over all interest of this country in view of the burning desire to salvage this country from seemingly unending security situation in the country hence the need to address specific critical gaps in the Act so as to realign and empower the Nation towards effectively implementing the National Cybersecurity Programme. 

4) Equally, the Committee’s action on the amendments was informed by the poor funding and the disruptive impact of the current and emerging existential cyber threats against national security and critical economic infrastructures.   

5) The CYBERCRIMES (PROHIBITION, PREVENTION, etc.) ACT (2015) which the Committee amended has adequate provisions for the imposition of cyber security levy since its enactment in 2015.The sole issue that stalled it implementation had been the vagueness of the provision of section Section 44 of the Principal Act which hitherto led to different interpretations until these well-intentioned amendments in 2024.
The Principal Cybercrime Act 2015 also provided the legal framework for the coordination, enforcement, and implementation of the national cybersecurity policy and strategy, critical information infrastructure protection, substantive and procedural legal measures on enforcement of directives on cybersecurity breaches, reporting, investigation of cyber-attack and cybercrime incidences and prosecution of offenders for deterrence purposes.   

6) The complexity in interpreting and applying certain provisions of the Cybercrime Act 2015 however stifled national cybersecurity efforts in the face of well-organised cyber syndicates and well-funded terror adversaries.  

7) It is on record that the current Cybercrime Act 2024 amends the Cybercrimes (Prohibition, Prevention, etc) Act.No. 17, 2015 to correct some consequential words that were inadvertently omitted in the Act, most specifically, Section 44 of the Principal Act as amended where the ambiguity on the said levy was demystified thereby putting it “a levy of 0.5% (0.005) equivalent to a half percent of all electronics transactions value by the business specified in the Second Schedule to this Act” It is also on record that there are many undefined clauses, phrases and words, including “0.005’’ which were the initial ambiguities not well defined in the principal Act and are now resolved in the new law.   At the risk of sounding like a broken record, these provisions on cybersecurity levy have been there in the principal Act since 2015 but the nation could not implement it due to vagueness in interpretations and applications.  It is customary that a public hearing is held before every Bill is passed and the amendment of Cybercrime Act 2024 was not an exception. There was proper participation of people from all spheres of human endevour that witnessed the process. To lend credence to the transparency of the process, the Bill was unanimously passed, as it has been the law and tradition, by the two chambers of the National Assembly. Let me reiterate again, that the paucity of funds and non-prioritisation of the National Cybersecurity Programme is a major impediment to its implementation in the face of growing domestic cybercrime, global cyber-attacks and other existential terror threats.  

8. Implementing a cybersecurity levy should be a matter of national urgency in the same category as the national food security emergency recently declared by His Excellency President Bola Tinubu.   

9. It is urgently imperative to fund the security of Nigeria’s Critical National Information Infrastructure (CNII), counter-terrorism and violent extremism, strengthen National Security and protect digital economic interests, and fully implement the National Cybersecurity Programme through the operationalisation of the National Cybersecurity Fund by all regulators and businesses specified in the Act.  

10. I am confident that judicious use of cybersecurity levy will enhance the Nation’s capability to assess, implement, update and advance the security of national critical economic infrastructure and protect the Nation’s cyberspace across all cybersecurity domains. 

11. The protection, security, and sustainability of Nigeria’s active engagement in cyberspace depends on the readiness to fund and diversify the cybersecurity engagement roadmap envisioned by the current administration and the support of my colleagues at the National Assembly. 

12. It is on record that Nigeria’s Cyber Threat Profile extends far beyond cybercrime, with other major cyber threats as classified under the National Cybersecurity Strategy.  13. If we must survive as a nation, the current weak approach to enforcing national cybersecurity directives must be re-examined and prioritized among other considerations.
 
14. The country must fund its cybersecurity and counter-terrorism programme not by foreign aid. Nigeria is facing multi-dimensional security challenges which pose existential threat and require extensive funding to resolve. The country must be committed to its ownership of national cybersecurity and counter-terrorism programmes for greater national stability.  

15. Our legislative commitment demands that we work together with the other arms of government towards institutional accountability and inclusive engagement that should form the necessary common values for the success of the cybersecurity programme and counter-terrorism measures.   

16. I commend both the Office of the National Security Adviser and the Central Bank of Nigeria for initiating the process for the operationalisation of the cybersecurity levy. it is not in dispute that news of the proposed implementation of cyber security levy has generated uproars in some sections of the country, the advantages that come with it far outweigh the disadvantages.

17. It is instructive to note that despite having directed the commercial Banks to implement the provisions of the Cybercrime (Amendment)Act 2024, in order that the law has human face as intended, the actors in the chains of implementation introduced several exemptions which have not ib initio been contemplated by the law as follows:
I. Loan disbursements and repayments II. Salary payments III. Intra-account transfers within the same bank or between different banks for the same customer IV. Intra-bank transfers between customers of the same bank V. Other Financial Institutions instructions to their correspondent banks VI. Interbank placements VII. Banks’ transfers to CBN and vice-versa VIII. Inter-branch transfers within a bank IX. Cheque clearing and settlements, X. Letters of Credits XI. Banks’ recapitalisation-related funding – only bulk funds movement from collection accounts XII. Savings and deposits, including transactions involving long-term investments such as Treasury Bills, Bonds, and Commercial Papers. XIII. Government Social Welfare Programmes transactions e.g. Pension payments XIV. Non-profit and charitable transactions, including donations to registered non-profit organisations or charities, XV. Educational institutions’ transactions, including tuition payments and other transactions involving schools, universities, or other educational institutions XVI. Transactions involving bank’s internal accounts such as suspense accounts, clearing accounts, profit and loss accounts, inter-branch accounts, reserve accounts, nostro and vostro accounts, and escrow accounts.  

18. It’s instructive to note that the exemptions provided above have watered down whatever inconveniences the law may impose on ordinary Nigerians and businesses.

19. To this end therefore, mandate of our Committee is not only to make laws but those that are in alignment with the yearnings and aspirations of Nigerians.

20. On behalf of the Senate Committee on National Security and Intelligence, I humbly wish to seek for the support of all Nigerians on the policy as it has been made for the maximum benefit of the citizenry which will crystalize in the shortest possible time.

21. On behalf of the Senate and Distinguished Colleagues, I express my deep appreciation to the leaders and representatives of MDAs at the federal and state levels, and all stakeholders that contributed to the success of this effort.  Thank you.  

Senator Shehu Buba Umar Chairman,
Senate Committee  on National Security and Intelligence



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