SERAP urges President Tinubu to revoke unlawful CBN cybersecurity levy within 48 hours

The Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has issued a strong call to President Bola Tinubu, urging him to promptly instruct the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to retract the cybersecurity levy imposed on Nigerians.

SERAP contends that this levy blatantly contravenes the stipulations of the Nigerian Constitution of 1999 [as amended], as well as the nation's international human rights obligations and commitments.

In an official statement endorsed by SERAP’s Deputy Director, Kolawole Oluwadare, the organization emphasized that the Tinubu administration must rescind the evidently capricious and illegal CBN directive, which seeks to levy Nigerians for cybersecurity purposes, within a 48-hour timeframe.

SERAP further implored President Tinubu to intervene and halt Nuhu Ribadu and the National Security Adviser's (NSA) office from enforcing section 44 and other oppressive clauses in the Cybercrimes Act of 2024. 

These actions, according to SERAP, flagrantly violate the tenets of the Nigerian Constitution, the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights, and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, all of which Nigeria is a signatory to.

According to the statement, the group also asked the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Lateef Fagbemi (SAN), to immediately prepare and present a bill to amend section 44, and other repressive provisions of the Cybercrimes Act 2024 to the National Assembly, so that those provisions can be brought in line with the Nigerian Constitution and the country’s international human rights obligations.

SERAP said, “Section 44(8) criminalising the non-payment of the cybersecurity levy by Nigerians is grossly unlawful and constitutional.

“Our lawyer Ebun-Olu Adegboruwa, SAN, is already preparing the necessary court papers should the administration fail or neglect to act as recommended.

“The administration must urgently take concrete and effective measures to ensure the repeal of section 44 and other repressive provisions of the Cybercrimes Act 2024.

“If the unlawful CBN directive is not withdrawn and appropriate steps are not taken to amend the repressive provisions of the Cybercrimes Act within 48 hours, SERAP shall consider appropriate legal actions to compel the Tinubu administration to comply with our request in the public interest.

“Withdrawing the unlawful CBN directive and repealing the repressive provisions of the Cybercrimes Act 2024 will be entirely consistent with President Tinubu’s constitutional oath of office which requires public officials to uphold the provisions of the constitution, and the rule of law and abstain from all improper acts.

“The repressive provisions of the Cybercrimes Act 2024 are clearly inconsistent and incompatible with the public trust and the overall objectives of the Constitution. A false oath lacks truth and justice. The oath statements require the oath takers to commit to uphold and defend the Constitution.

“Section 14(2)(b) of the Nigerian Constitution of 1999 [as amended] provides that, ‘the security and welfare of the people shall be the primary purpose of government,” the statement read in part.

The CBN has just directed banks and other financial institutions, to implement a 0.5 per cent cybersecurity levy on electronic transfers based on section 44 44(2)(a) of the Cybercrimes Act 2024.

The 0.005 levy is equivalent to a half per cent of all electronic transactions value by the business specified in the second schedule of the Cybercrime Act 2024, the CBN had explained, adding that the money is to be remitted to the National Cybersecurity Fund (NCF), which would be administered by the Office of the National Security Adviser (ONSA).
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