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Lawsuit Filed Against CBN Over Cybersecurity Levy

The Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP), BudgIT, and 136 concerned Nigerians have taken legal action against the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) regarding a contentious cybersecurity levy. This levy, mandated by a recent CBN circular, demands banks and financial institutions deduct 0.5% from electronic transactions, purportedly for a national cybersecurity fund.

Challenging the legality of this directive, a lawsuit (FHC/L/CS/822/2024) was lodged at the Federal High Court in Lagos. The plaintiffs seek to ascertain if the CBN’s circular, issued on May 6, 2024, surpasses its authority and violates constitutional rights.

Specifically, the lawsuit questions whether the directive breaches Nigerian constitutional provisions and international agreements, rendering it unlawful and void. The plaintiffs argue that the levy’s imposition on bank customers contradicts the Cybercrime Act, which they claim solely targets specific businesses, not individual account holders.

Represented by lawyer Ebun-Olu Adegboruwa, SAN, the plaintiffs argue that implementing the levy would cause irreversible harm to millions of Nigerians, undermining their property rights and disregarding constitutional obligations to safeguard citizens’ welfare and security.

The lawsuit contends that the establishment of the National Cybersecurity Fund, to which the levy is directed, contradicts constitutional mandates requiring revenue to be paid into the Federation Account. Moreover, it alleges that the CBN’s circular misinterprets the Cybercrimes Act, unfairly burdening bank customers and exceeding the CBN’s regulatory scope.

The plaintiffs, comprising bank customers across Nigeria, highlight existing transaction charges imposed by commercial banks, emphasizing the additional financial burden the cybersecurity levy would pose.

Their legal petition seeks various reliefs, including the annulment of the CBN circular, declarations of its illegality and unconstitutionality, and an injunction against its enforcement pending court resolution.

No court date has been set for the lawsuit, leaving the fate of the controversial cybersecurity levy in limbo as legal proceedings unfold.

This legal challenge underscores the intersection of financial policy, regulatory oversight, and individual rights in Nigeria’s evolving digital landscape. As the country grapples with cybersecurity threats, the balance between national security imperatives and individual financial burdens remains a subject of intense debate and legal scrutiny.

 

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