Senate Chief Whip, Ndume Condemns Cybersecurity Levy

The Senate Chief Whip, Ali Ndume, has condemned the controversial cybersecurity levy, arguing that it is inappropriate for the government to continue taxing citizens without taking steps to increase their income.

Speaking as a guest on Channels Television’s politics Today, recently, the Senator representing Borno South Senatorial District in the Senate expressed concern that the proposed levy would further burden citizens with taxes.

Ndume said as a member of the National Assembly that recently amended the Cybersecurity Act, he expressed regret that he did not notice the part of the amendment that imposed a burden on Nigerians, despite supporting the overall Act.

In his words: “You cannot be loading taxes on people when you are not increasing their income. Their source of income, you are not widening it, you are not increasing it. I am not part of those that support levying people anyhow.

“The amendment to the Cybersecurity Act, I supported it but not the nitty-gritty and I am not trying to run away from any blame. We have issues with cybercrime, you know that, and there is a need for the government to improve the Cybercrime Act, that is what I understand by the amendment.

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“Looking at the nitty-gritty would have been the responsibility of interested parties. If I had known there is an issue where a cost would be transferred to a customer or a Nigerian, I would not agree,” he said.

The Senator,however emphasised that lawmakers should not be solely blame for the Cybersecurity Act, stating that civil society organisations and labour unions should also identify flaws during public hearings.

Seminary,The Trade Union Congress (TUC) has slammed the opposition lawmakers in the National Assembly members over its perceived quietness on the controversial cybersecurity levy.

On May 6, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) Nigeria’s central bank directed banks and other financial institutions to implement a 0.5 per cent cybersecurity levy on electronic transfers.

The apex bank said the deductions would go to the National Cybersecurity Fund which would be administered by the Office of the National Security Adviser (ONSA). Many Nigerians and groups have expressed their dissatisfaction, highlighting that banking transactions are becoming increasingly costly due to numerous charges.

Speaking as a guest on Channels Television’s Politics Today, the TUC President, Festus Usifo, wondered why the opposition lawmakers who are representatives of the people are yet to take a stance on the controversial policy. He accused the ruling party – the All Progressives Congress (APC) – of making life more difficult for the Nigerian people.

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“Where are the opposition parties in the National Assembly? Where are the PDP, Labour Party, and NNPP members?” the visibly angry Usifo questioned.

“Even if the ruling party today wants to suffocate Nigerians and the opposition, you hear nothing from them. It is really that bad. This kind of attitude where we don’t see bills like this in the newspapers that there is going to be public hearings, and we don’t hear any advertisement on major television channels that there is going to be a public hearing. What are they doing with the budget of the National Assembly?”

According to him, the organised labour was not carried along by the lawmakers in the passage of the Cybercrime (Prohibition, Prevention, etc) (Amendment) Act 2024.

Earlier, the TUC threatened a massive protest that would shut down the Nigerian economy should the Federal Government fail to cancel the controversial cybersecurity levy.

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TUC said it is illogical that this is coming at a time that Nigerians are grappling with the high cost of living that is imposed by the devaluation of naira, hyper hike in the cost of Petrol, supersonic increment in the cost of electricity tariff, etc.

The union said it is disturbed that since the inception of the President Bola Tinubu-led administration, government policies have brought pain, anguish, and sorrow to Nigerians.

It lamented that account holders in Nigeria are already dealing with multiple taxation from both the Federal Government and the banks.

By Sophina Ovuike, Abuja