By Gift Chapi Odekina
The House of representatives has threatened to arrest Chief Executive Officers of MTN, GLO, Aitel and other 12 telecom companies operating in Nigeria over failure to honour invitation on an investigative hearing by the house committee on finance.
This followed a motion brought to the floor of the house by Rep. James Falake, Chairman house commitee on finance.
According to him, the house has observed a huge revenue leakages of over $30Billion attributable to Corporations who systematically evade the remittance of the appropriate taxes, despite public declarations of exhorbitant revenues and profits.
He said that the sole objective of these investigations by the House was to ensure that Nigeria’s tax regime remains fair and competitive, and expected tax revenue by any organization and or individual is paid appropriately and accordingly into the government Treasury.
“The Committee of Finance and Banking & Currency, in furtherance of its obligations as directed by the House, issued letters of invitation to various corporations to submit documents of their full compliance with the Law’s of the Federation.
“The House is amazed that some of these corporations, particularly Telecoms operators under the aegis of Incorporated Trustees of Association of Licensed Telecommunications Operators of Nigeria, upon the receipt of the letters of invitation chose instead to file cases in the Court.
“The House notes that a judgment in favour of the National Assembly was delivered on the 13th of March 2020, by Her Lordship, B.F.M. Nyako J, which reiterated that ‘the National Assembly is empowered by sections 88 and 89 of the constitution to invite any persons for investigative purposes’.
“However, the telecoms operators under the aegis of Incorporated Trustees of Association of Licensed Telecommunications Operators of Nigeria have contested the powers of the National Assembly, and have filed an Appeal, seeking an injunction to restrain the National Assembly from investigating their business, operations and policies, summoning them, requesting any documents or books from them, conducting any investigative hearing or meetings against [them], making oversight visits to their offices or premises for the purposes of investigating or demanding information”
In his ruling, the Speaker, Femi Gbadabiamila said that these telecom companies are not above the law and must honour the parliament of the country in which they operate.
He said that 8th assemble will do all it takes to protect the integrity of National assembly and telecoms operators must obey the parliament.
” We will not seat and accept the parliament handicaped. If MTN was to be summoned by the South Africa parliament it will huryly honour the invitation. The consequence of their action is arrest and fine, he National Assembly has such powers and we will impose if they refuse to appear.
“Let it be clear that any one who turns against the parliament will have himself to blame, on this backdrop we will once again extend invitation to them, if they refuse to respond after seven days we will then be forced to impose our powers, and call for arrest and they will also be fined.