By suspending cybersecurity levy, Tinubu acted like a father of the nation, says HURIWA 

Prominent civil rights advocacy group, Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria, has stated that if it is true that President Bola Ahmed Tinubu has indeed suspended the compulsory deduction by banks from electronic transactions of a certain percentage of amount as cybersecurity levy, then it can as well be said that the president has shown his fatherly side in this decision. 

The decision to implement a 0.5 percent levy on some electronic transactions sparked outrage across the country.

HURIWA recalled that the Nation Newspaper, a national daily in Nigeria rumoured to be owned by President Bola Ahmed Tinubu, has exclusively reported that the federal government has ordered a review of the controversial cybersecurity levy and suspended its implementation.

The decision to suspend the implementation of the cybersecurity levy, according to the newspaper, was taken on Thursday following the outrage that greeted the decision to implement it.

This week, banks will be asked to “ignore the implementation directive” an official of the Central Bank of Nigeria told the newspaper.

“A source close to the government disclosed that the president had called the CBN governor on the matter and that the CBN is likely going to issue a statement this week deferring the implementation of the policy.

“The CBN official said the apex bank was surprised at the level of anger directed at it when it was only obeying a law passed and assented to by the authorities.

“The official noted that the CBN does not have the power to repel any law but will engage the banks not to implement the cybersecurity levy deductions,” The Nation further reported.

HURIWA recalled that many Nigerians felt the levy would “raise the cost of living and conducting business” and also hinder the growth of digital transactions.

Besides, the Rights group in a media statement  by the National  Coordinator  Comrade  Emmanuel  Onwubiko,  recalled too that the House of Representatives joined the chorus of disapproval, calling on the CBN to “withdraw its circular directing all banks to commence charging” the levy. They argued the CBN’s directive was “ambiguous” and needed clarification.

HURIWA quoting the Nation Newspaper rumoured to be published by President Tinubu, affirmed that President Tinubu, sensitive to the “economic burden on Nigerians,” asked the CBN to “hold off on that policy and review things again. Sources close to the president emphasized his commitment to avoiding policies that “add to the burden of the people.”

The review will not only examine the CBN’s implementation of the levy but also the underlying Cybersecurity Act itself. The Act, passed in 2015, predates the Tinubu administration.

Aides to the president suggest he may seek modifications to the Act to ensure it does not “frustrate Nigerians.”

HURIWA has also suggested that aside the issue of cybersecurity levy, there ought to be a comprehensive review and amendments of many draconian sections of the cybersecurity Act, including several provisions that are targeted at whittling down the capacity of investigative journalists going about their delicate tasks of investigation for publications due to several encumbrances in the cybersecurity Act which criminalised aspects of investigative journalism as cyber stalking which the Nigerian police have exploited to muzzle press freedoms in Nigeria. 

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