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SERAP, BudgIT, 136 Nigerians want court to stop Tinubu govt from imposing cybersecurity levy on Nigerians

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Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP), BudgIT and 136 concerned Nigerians have filed a lawsuit against the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) “over its failure to withdraw the patently unlawful ‘Circular’ directing all banks and other financial institutions to deduct from customers’ account a ‘cybersecurity levy’.”

The CBN had last week directed banks to implement a levy of 0.5% (0.005) equivalent to a half percent of all electronic transactions, and to remit the levy to the ‘national cybersecurity fund.’ The CBN relied on the Cybercrime Act 2015 [as amended]. The directive is to be implemented by Monday, May 20, 2024.

In the suit number FHC/L/CS/822/2024 filed last Friday at the Federal High Court, Lagos, the Plaintiffs are asking the court to determine “whether the CBN Circular dated 6th May 2024, directing financial institutions to deduct from customers’ accounts a cybersecurity levy is unlawful and therefore ultra vires the CBN.”

The Plaintiffs are also asking the court to determine “whether the CBN Circular dated 6th May 2024, directing financial institutions to deduct from customers’ accounts a cybersecurity levy and section 44(2)(a) of the Cybercrimes Act are not in breach of sections 14(2), 44(1) and 162(1) of the Nigerian Constitution 1999 [as amended], and therefore unconstitutional, null, and void.”

The Plaintiffs are asking the court for “a declaration that the CBN Circular dated 6th May 2024 directing all banks and other financial institutions to deduct from customers’ accounts a cybersecurity levy is contrary to the provisions of the Cybercrimes Act and ultra vires the CBN, and therefore is illegal null and void.”

The Plaintiffs are seeking “an order of interim injunction restraining the CBN, its office, agents, privies, assigns, or any other persons acting on its instructions from enforcing the Circular dated 6th May 2024, pending the hearing and determination of the motion on notice filed contemporaneously in this suit.”

The suit filed on behalf of the Plaintiffs by their lawyer Ebun-Olu Adegboruwa, SAN, read in part: “The CBN Circular is unlawful and an outright violation of the provisions of the Nigerian Constitution and the country’s international obligations.”

“Unless the reliefs sought are granted, the CBN will enforce its Circular directing banks to deduct from customers’ accounts a cybersecurity levy. Millions of Nigerians with active bank accounts would suffer irreparable damage from the unlawful deduction of cybersecurity levies from their accounts.”

“The provisions of the Cybercrimes Act on payment of cybersecurity levy strictly apply only to businesses listed in the Second Schedule to the Act. These provisions make no reference to bank customers, contrary to the CBN Circular to all banks and other financial institutions.”

“The Nigerian government has a legal responsibility to ensure the security and welfare of the people, as provided for under section 14(2)(b) of the Nigerian Constitution and human rights treaties to which Nigeria is a state party.”

“The CBN Circular is also a blatant violation of Nigerians’ human rights including the right to property guaranteed under section 44 of the Nigerian Constitution and article 14 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights to which Nigeria is a state party.”

“We urge the Honourable to grant the reliefs sought in the public interest and the interest of justice as well as to prevent arbitrariness and ensure the rule of law in the country.”

“Any deduction of cybersecurity levy from Nigerians’ accounts would be contrary to the provisions of section 44(2)(a) of the Cybercrimes Act 2015 as amended by the Cybercrimes Prohibition, Prevention etc) (Amendment) Act 2024 and ultra vires the CBN, and therefore illegal, null and void.”

“Section 162 (1) of the Nigerian Constitution provides that all revenues collected by or on behalf of the Government of the Federation are mandatorily required to be paid into the Federation Account save the revenue excepted by the provisions of the section.”

“The National Cybersecurity Fund established by section 44(1) of the Cybercrimes Act 2015 [as amended] into which it is required to be paid the levy of 0.5% chargeable on all electronic transactions instead of the Federation Account is unconstitutional, null, and void.”

“The CBN Circular is a breach and misinterpretation of Sections 44(2)(a) and 58 of the Cybercrimes Act [as amended], in that it purports to incorporate customers of the bank (neither defined by the Act nor designated by the CBN as financial institutions) as those to pay the cybersecurity levy.”

 

“The Plaintiffs are customers of commercial banks in Nigeria with accounts domiciled with many commercial banks in Nigeria. The CBN is the statutory agency charged with the overall control and administration of the monetary and financial sector policies of the Federal Government.”

“The Plaintiffs are included in the statistics of Nigerians with active bank accounts as the Plaintiffs are owners of accounts in different Banks and other financial institutions.”

“As of 30 April 2024, commercial banks in Nigeria already charge exorbitant fees for electronic transactions, including Electronic Transfer Charges at N53.75 on any amount above N10,000, Stamp Duty of N50 on every transaction and Account Maintenance Charge deducted per month.”

The Plaintiffs are therefore asking the court for the following reliefs:

A DECLARATION that the Circular issued by the CBN and dated 6th May 2024 directing all banks and other financial institutions to deduct from customers’ accounts cybersecurity levy is manifestly misleading, extorting and a breach and misinterpretation of the provisions of Section 44, 58 and Second Schedule of the Cybercrimes (Prohibition, Prevention, ETC) (Amendment) Act 2024 and ultra vires the CBN, and therefore is illegal, null and void.
A DECLARATION that the the Circular issued by the CBN and dated 6th May 2024 directing all banks and other financial institutions to deduct from customers’ accounts cybersecurity levy and section 44(2)(a) of the Cybercrimes Act are inconsistent with, and a breach of the provisions of Section 14(2), 44 (1) 162 of the Nigerian Constitution 1999 [as amended] and therefore unconstitutional, null and void.
AN ORDER setting aside the the Circular issued by the CBN and dated 6th May 2024 directing all banks and other financial institutions to deduct from customers’ accounts cybersecurity levy, for being misleading, extorting and a breach of the provisions of Section 44, 58 and Second Schedule of the Cybercrimes (Prohibition, Prevention, ETC) (Amendment) Act 2024.
AN ORDER setting aside the Circular issued by the CBN and dated 6th May 2024 directing all banks and other financial institutions to deduct from customers’ accounts cybersecurity levy and section 44(2)(a) of the Cybercrimes Act, for being inconsistent with, and a breach of the provisions of Section 14(2), 44 (1) and 162 of the Nigerian Constitution 1999 [as amended] and therefore unconstitutional, null and void.
AN ORDER restraining the Central Bank of Nigeria, including its agents, assigns, privies and or representatives or such other persons acting on its behalf, from enforcing the the Circular issued by the CBN and dated 6th May 2024 against all banks and other financial institutions and their customers.
ANY ORDER(S) that the Honorable Court may deem fit to make in the circumstance of this suit.

No date has been fixed for the hearing of the suit.

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Navy warns Nigerians against recruitment fraudsters

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The Nigerian Navy has warned the public to beware of scammers impersonating the Chief of Naval Staff, Vice Admiral Emmanuel Ogalla, on Facebook and other social media platforms.

The Director of Naval Information, Commodore Aiwuyor Adams-Aliu, stated this in a statement on Thursday in Abuja.

Adams-Aliu said that Vice Admiral Ogallah did not have a Facebook account, warning that any account found in his name should be treated as fake and be reported via Meta mechanism.

According to him, also worrisome are the activities of fraudulent individuals exploiting unsuspecting citizens seeking recruitment into the Nigerian Navy.

He said that investigations revealed certain individuals seized the opportunity provided by the Nigerian Navy recruitment to dupe unsuspecting citizens by collecting huge sums of money from them.

“A notable case is that of Mrs Grace Elijah, who was arrested at the Landmark Hotel at Trailer Park in Eleme Local Government Area of Rivers on May 9 for alleged involvement in enlistment fraud.

“Mrs Grace Elijah is a member of a syndicate that collected the sum of N1.4 million from 13 civilians with a promise to facilitate their participation in the recently concluded Direct Short Service Commission (DSSC) 29 Selection Board Exercise.

Disclosing that Elijah and other suspects have been handed over to the Nigeria Police for prosecution, he added: “The public is also to note that authentic recruitment/enlistment processes by the NN are conducted through official channels and are well-publicised through reputable media platforms, including the official website of the Nigerian Navy” (www.navy.mil.ng).

“For emphasis, please note that recruitment/enlistment into the NN is completely free and the Navy will never ask any candidate to make any form of monetary payment throughout the entire process.”

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Sanusi reinstated as Emir of Kano four years after deposition

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Muhammadu Sanusi II, deposed as the Emir of Kano four years ago, has been reinstated to the throne by Governor Abba Yusuf.

Yusuf announced the decision on Thursday after signing the Kano State Emirate Council (Repeal) Bill 2024 into law.

“With the full support of the kingmakers, I have approved the reappointment of Malam Sanusi Lamido,” Abba said.

The new law replaces the Kano State Emirates Council Law, 2019, and dissolves the emirate councils created by former Governor Abdullahi Ganduje.

By the law, Ganduje had created the emirates of  Karaye, Bichi, Rano, and Gaya, in addition to Kano in December 2019.

The former governor had also dethroned  Sanusi II after a long-running dispute in March 2020.

Earlier on Thursday, the state assembly had passed the repeal into law during plenary .

The Deputy Speaker, Muhammad Butu, explained that repealing the law would revive the lost glory of Kano as the division of Kano emirate to five reduced the capacity and dignity of the state at the national level.

“This bill in its entirety has abrogated the establishment of the five new Emirates in the state and reverted to the former status of a single Emir in Kano which we inherited since the Jihad of Shehu Usman Dan Fodio,” said Majority Leader Lawal Hussaini Chediyar Yan Gurasa after the repeal was passed on Thursday.

“The abolished Emirates did nothing but create division among the indigenes of Kano. The unity which was visible for thousands of years in Kano was divided. We are now reverting to our old historical background; one Kano, one people, one Emir,” Yan Gurasa stated.

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FX inflow in Nigeria surges by 136% in Q1 2024 – CBN

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The Central Bank of Nigeria has said FX inflows into the country surged by 136 per cent in the first quarter of 2024 compared to last year.

CBN governor Olayemi Cardoso, represented by Blaise Ijebor, director of Risk at the apex bank, disclosed this recently at the 8th edition of the Vanguard Economic Summit.

He stressed that the country witnessed a spike in foreign investment portfolio inflows in Q1 2024.

“In Q1, we saw a massive spike in inflows. The FX flows into the country in the first quarter of 2024 were 136 per cent of our total inflows in 2023.”

Data from the FMDQ website showed that the total foreign portfolio inflow for Q1 2024 (N93.37 billion) was more than quintuple for Q1 2023 (N18.12 billion).

The development comes as foreign exchange inflows into Nigeria surged to a five-year high in March, and investor confidence improved due to the central bank’s reforms.

Meanwhile, foreign investment portfolio outflow also surged during the period under review.

 

 

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