Cybersecurity Levy Aimed at Financial Institutions, Telecoms, Not Individuals- Senator Buba

From Lateef Taiwo

Senator Shehu Umar Buba, the Chairman of the Senate Committee on National Security and Intelligence, has clarified that the recently imposed cybersecurity levy announced by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) is not targeted at individuals or ordinary bank customers.

The Senator who sponsored the amendment bill told Economic Confidential that the levy is aimed explicitly at financial institutions and telecom companies, the most vulnerable sectors to financial crimes and cyber fraud, to enhance cybersecurity measures and national security in the country.

He noted that the relevant section of the Cybercrime Act is very clear about the businesses that are required to pay the levy, not the citizens.

“The Act is very explicit about who is responsible for the payment, not Nigerian citizens or individuals. The relevant Section of the Cybercrime Act 2015 listed the businesses required to pay the levy: telecommunications companies, Internet Service Providers, Banks, Insurance Companies, the Nigerian Stock Exchange, and other Financial Institutions.

“The organisations in the sectors have been listed in previous circulars by the Central Bank of Nigeria, especially in 2018. The new circular by the CBN further provided many exemptions.”

Senator Buba also clearly explained the amount payable as a cybersecurity levy. “It is either 0.005 or 0.5% arithmetically. The figure in the principal act was 0.005 as a fraction, which was converted to the percentage that became 0.5% in the amendment. Therefore, the statistics in fractions and percentages are the same.

The legislator highlighted that the passage of the amendment bill was a collaborative effort of various stakeholders.

“The passage of the amendment bill was a collaborative effort involving the government, industry players, civil society, and academia in the contributions and active participation in the public hearing before and endorsement by the two chambers of the National Assembly. After rigorous processes, President Bola Ahmed Tinubu signed the bill into law in February 2024.”

The Senator acknowledged the concerns of Nigerians, civil groups, and other stakeholders about the current economic situation but was reassured that implementing the cybersecurity law was not meant to punish citizens. He emphasised that the levy is a collective effort to protect national security and the economy, with the financial burden primarily falling on the specified businesses.

The Cybercrime (Prohibition, Prevention, etc.) (Amendment) Act 2024, which President Tinubu signed into law in February, imposes a 0.5 percent (0.005) levy equivalent to half the value of all electronic transactions by the businesses specified in the Second Schedule of the Act. The levy will be remitted to the National Cybersecurity Fund, which the Office of the National Security Adviser (ONSA) shall administer.

The circular announcing the levy also exempted some transactions from the cybercrime levy, including loan disbursements and repayments, salary payments, intra-account transfers, and other financial transactions.


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