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Civil society organizations sue Nigerian’s central bank over new cybersecurity levy

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The Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project, a non-profit organization, BudgIT, and 136 concerned Nigerians have sued the Central Bank of Nigeria “over its failure” to rescind the recently announced controversial cybersecurity levy.

In what was described as an “unlawful circular,” the plaintiffs in the suit number FHC/L/CS/822/2024 filed last Friday at the Federal High Court, Lagos State,  asked 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.”

SERAP’s Deputy Director, Kolawole Oluwadare, revealed the lawsuit in a statement on Sunday following the apex bank’s circular last Monday, ordering all commercial, merchant, non-interest, and payment service banks in the country to charge a cybersecurity levy on transactions.

“The levy shall be applied at the point of electronic transfer origination, then deducted and remitted by the financial institution. The deducted amount shall be reflected in the customer’s account with the narration, ‘Cybersecurity Levy.” the circular stated.

The announcement of the levy has been greeted with widespread condemnation, leading to President Bola Tinubu asking the CBN to suspend the implementation of the controversial cybersecurity levy policy and order a review; however, the plaintiffs asked the court to determine whether the apex bank’s directive “is not in breach of sections 14(2), 44(1), and 162(1) of the Nigerian Constitution 1999 [as amended], and thus unconstitutional, null, and void.”

They insisted that 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,” be restrained.

The plaintiffs’ lawyer, Ebun-Olu Adegboruwa, SAN, filed the complaint, which stated, in part, that “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 do not refer bank customers, contrary to the CBN circular to all banks and other financial institutions.”

Meanwhile, Nigeria’s Vice President, Kashim Shettima, on Saturday allayed fears of citizens over the tax reforms being implemented by the current administration, stressing that the tax reforms are targeted at revitalizing the country’s economy and not to frustrate and impoverish Nigerians.

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Nigeria 2027: Opposition party chieftain Atiku vows to support Obi if …

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In Nigeria, the 2023 presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party, Atiku Abubakar, has hinted that he would support the candidacy of another opposition leader, Peter Obi, in 2027 if the PDP decided that it was the South-East’s turn.

“I have said repeatedly and I even said it before the 2023 general elections that if the PDP decides to zone the presidential ticket to the South or South-East specifically, I won’t contest it. As long as it’s the decision of the party, I will abide by it. But I contested the 2023 presidential ticket because it was thrown open to all members of the party.

“If the party decides that it’s the turn of the South-East and Peter Obi is chosen, I won’t hesitate to support him,” Atiku declared in a recent interview with BBC Hausa Service.

Responding to questions following his meeting with Obi earlier this week, Atiku said, “It’s just a normal friendly meeting that we often have, particularly among us in the opposition parties. Such meetings are healthy for Nigeria’s democracy and in the country’s interest.”

On whether this will bring about a merger, he said, “Yes, it’s very much possible. We can merge to achieve a common goal. So, it’s possible, and nothing can stop it if we wish to achieve that.”

The former Vice President, who denied that the choice of presidential candidate might frustrate the possibility of likely political coalition stressed, “That’s not true. That challenge will not arise. I can tell you that the choice of who will fly the flag of the party won’t be an issue.”

Atiku responded, “Yes, we can’t keep quiet and watch things go wrong,” when asked whether he was still involved in politics. We are dedicated to improving Nigeria because we know that people are suffering.

“It means you are not tired of the politics of Nigeria? Not at all. I am still in active politics in Nigeria, at least, as long as God permits.

“My age doesn’t stop the young ones from testing their fate. Everybody, irrespective of age, is allowed to aspire to be anybody in the society, politically or otherwise.”

On his 2027 Presidential ambition, Atiku revealed “That would depend on the decision of my party. I can’t make any categorical statement on that. The party must decide on the way to go in the next election.

“Until that time comes. Let’s just wait and see how it will turn out.

“It must not be interpreted like that. I must not be eyeing elections to have meetings with political friends and associates. Currently, we are practising democracy in this country which we fought for with our blood.”

In 2019, former APC President Muhammadu Buhari beat Atiku and Obi running jointly on the PDP platform. But Obi, who was Atiku’s running partner in 2019, defected from the PDP to run for president of the Labour Party in 2023 because of internal strife.

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Senegal: PM Sonko condemns French military bases on territory

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Senegal’s Prime Minister, Ousmane Sonko, in a detailed speech on Friday, touched a range of national issues, including the euro-backed CFA franc, oil and gas transactions, and LGBTQ rights.

Firebrand Sonko, who came to prominence in March after his hand-picked presidential candidate, Bassirou Diomaye Faye, won a resounding victory also stressed the potential of closing French military posts in the West African nation.

“More than 60 years after our independence … we must question the reasons why the French army for example still benefits from several military bases in our country and the impact of this presence on our national sovereignty and our strategic autonomy,” Sonko said at a joint conference with the French left-wing politician Jean-Luc Melenchon in the capital Dakar.

“I reiterate here the desire of Senegal to have its own control, which is incompatible with the lasting presence of foreign military bases in Senegal … Many countries have promised defence agreements, but this does not justify the fact that a third of the Dakar region is now occupied by foreign garrisons.”

After driving out French forces, neighbours Mali, Burkina Faso, and Niger looked to Russia for assistance in quelling Islamist insurgencies on their own. A commercial is presently playing on the video player. With a mouse or keyboard, you can skip the advertisement in five seconds.

They have also established their alliance with Sahel states and distanced themselves from the West African group ECOWAS, which denounced their coups. However, Sonko spoke kindly to them on Thursday.

“We will not let go of our brothers in the Sahel and we will do everything necessary to strengthen the ties,” he said.

Additionally, he stated that in order to enhance export competitiveness and to absorb shocks, Senegal, which shares the euro-linked CFA franc currency with seven other nations, would prefer a flexible currency pegged to at least two currencies.

Faye had originally promised to do away with the CFA franc during the election campaign, but he later changed his mind. Renegotiation of oil and gas contracts in Senegal, where production is scheduled to start this year, was one of Sonko’s repeated promises.

In addition, he urged Western nations to approach social issues like gender equality and LGBTQ rights with “restraint, respect, reciprocity, and tolerance.” He claimed that although homosexuality had always existed in Senegal, it had always been “managed” by the nation under its sociocultural circumstances and that this would continue.

“Senegal and many other African countries cannot accept any truth in legalising this phenomenon.”

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