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Ndume To FG: You Can’t Charge  Extra Taxes When There’s No Increase In Nigerians’ Income

Senator Ndume has opposed the proposed cybersecurity levy, citing concerns over increased tax burden without income increment.

The senator representing Borno South Senatorial District in the Senate, Ali Ndume, has condemned the controversial cybersecurity levy as proposed by the federal government, saying that it is not proper for the government to continue to levy the citizens while nothing is done to increase their income.

This is as the Trade Union Congress (TUC) slammed the opposition lawmakers in the National Assembly over its perceived quietness on the controversial cybersecurity levy.

Ndume, who was a guest during a television interview at the weekend, said the proposed cybersecurity levy would increase the tax burden on Nigerians.

“You cannot be charging 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,” he said.

The Cybersecurity Act was recently amended by the members of the National Assembly, including Ndume.

He, however, said that while he supported the Act, he didn’t spot this part that has placed a burden on Nigerians.

“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.

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

Ndume said the lawmakers alone should not take the blame for the Act, saying that where some things escape the notice of the lawmakers, civil society organisations and the labour unions are supposed to point out grey areas during the public hearing.

In a circular dated May 6, 2024, to all deposit money banks, mobile money operators, and payment service providers, the apex bank directed the deduction of the levy to be remitted to the National Cybersecurity Fund (NCF), administered by the Office of the National Security Adviser (ONSA).

On May 6, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) 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.

The CBN directive has since been greeted by a deluge of condemnations, with the labour unions threatening nationwide action should the government fail to withdraw the directive.

The House of Representatives has, however, asked the CBN to withdraw the circular directing financial institutions to commence implementation of the 0.5 per cent cybersecurity levy, describing it as “ambiguous”.

During the same programme, TUC slammed the opposition lawmakers in the National Assembly members over its perceived quietness on the controversial cybersecurity levy.

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.

 “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.

Wale Igbintade

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