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‘Unacceptable Extortion’, CNG Rejects Cybersecurity Levy

The Coalition of Northern Groups (CNG) has rejected the newly introduced 0.5 per cent cybersecurity levy to be charged on all bank transactions.

The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) had on Monday, issued a circular to all commercial, merchant, non-interest, and payment service banks, among others; noting that the implementation of the levy would start two weeks from Monday, May 6, 2024

“The levy shall be applied at the point of electronic transfer origination, then deducted and remitted by the financial institution. The deducted amount shall be reflected in the customer’s account with the narration, ‘Cybersecurity Levy,” the circular stated partly.

Reacting to the development, the CNG, in a statement by its National Coordinator, Comrade Jamilu Aliyu Charanchi, said the decision “exemplified the federal government’s lack of compassion and empathy to the plight of Nigerians in the face of the current economic hardship.”

The group, therefore, demanded the immediate withdrawal of the levy.

The statement read in part: “It is a crass heartlessness that is a sequel to fuel subsidy removal which now made fuel above N1000 per liter and the electricity tariff abrupt soaring that is tantamount to another daily-light extortion in the offing by the government that came to being through democratic processes.

“The CNG describes the policy as totally unacceptable extortion that is callously being burdened on Nigerians that are already suffering from neoliberal exploitations through the Government’s thoughtlessness to the plight of the downtrodden.

“We believe that this additional charge is completely unjustifiable as Nigerians are already being fleeced through collection of stamp duty, transfer fee, VAT, and SMS charges in the Nigerian banking sector.

“While we concur that securing our cyber space is paramount, that can only be justified as a corollary to the stabilization of the economy and improvement of the standard of living of Nigerians. Even at that, the current 0.5% percent is quite exorbitant in a country that has not fully implemented N30, 000 minimum wage but has reportedly raised the disposal income of the members of the National Assembly.

“The CNG recalls that hundreds of billions of naira had been collected and pillaged through stamp duty alone in the last few years without transparent and accountable explanation to Nigerians by the apex bank.

“Therefore, this CBN’s pronouncement, which is capable of becoming another cesspool of corruption, is wholly and roundly rejected, condemned and censured by all and sundry that have the country and its people at heart.

“We regret that the Government had already strangled the people from any derivable benefit in healthcare, education, fuel subsidy and agriculture to the point that millions of Nigerians cannot afford decent living in whatever form.

“The CNG observes that Nigerians are already swimming in despicable stringent conditions consequent to the Government’s ill-advised policies that have weakened people’s purchasing power.

“Consequently, the CNG demands that the CBN immediately reverses this draconian and unilateral decision that unjustifiably imposes extra burden on the masses amidst crunching economic circumstances.

“Furthermore, we call on the national banker as a matter of principle and transparency, in lieu of further depleting the lean resources of struggling but resilient Nigerians, to provide detailed explanation of all the stamp duty charges accrued from the banks in the last 10 years.

“Therefore, we counsel the CBN to reconsider this ill-conceived policy and explore alternative solutions that do not further extend Nigerians to the dictates of capitalist institutions.”

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