Chief Executive Officers of the telecommunications service providers with have been given seven-day ultimatum to appear before the House of Representatives’ Committee on Finance over $30bn revenue loss or risk being arrested.
They include MTN Nigeria, Glo Mobile Limited, Airtel Nigeria and other telecommunications service providers.
This followed the adoption of the motion under matters of urgent public importance on the service providers’ refusal to honour the committee’s invitation.
Presenting the motion, the Chairman House Committee on Finance, Mr James Faleke from Lagos State said the service providers have refused to honour the invitation to defend their role on the alleged foreign exchange frauds contributing to revenue leakages of $30bn.
He said the invitation was to give a fair hearing to the service providers after the House resolution at plenary that mandated the relevant committees to investigate them.
“We wrote letters to the companies and some of them, under the auspices of Registered Trustees off Telecom operators found it necessary to go to court and on the 13th of March, the Court delivered judgment in favour of the National Assembly that the National Assembly has the power to invite anybody.” He argued.
Mr Falake observed that going to court, they sought to prolong and delay the activities of the National Assembly.
He added that “If we allow this to continue, then we have no business being here. We have figures of tax invasion running into several billions of dollars against these companies, but we didn’t want to believe these figures. But rather than submit their document, they felt the best way was to head to court.
This parliament has the power to summon anybody, including Mr President. If we need him to come and answer questions, he will be invited and he will come here talk less of individuals who are making money from this country refusing to obey the summons of the National Assembly.”
In his ruling, the Speaker, Femi Gbajabiamila, said of all the three arms of government, the one that the constitution deemed fit to give the power of arrest and summon is the legislature.
“This House decided to set up a committee headed by the Chairman, Finance to look into the dwindling revenue which will affect us and shake the very foundation of our democracy if we don’t make the revenue upon which our budget is based.
The committee is to find out ways and means upon which we can look for alternative sources of income. In their work, the committee discovered shocking infractions by certain organizations, especially private organizations in the form of taxes.
They wrote and these organizations responded by saying they were not going to appear before the committee because they have filed a motion in court. The MTN, Globacom of this world are not above the law.
We said it at the beginning of this 9th Assembly that every now and then, we shall shake the table. This may just be one of those times when we shall shake the table.
From the House of Representatives or the National Assembly, we will not sit down and accept to be handicapped because some people somewhere are holding on to the revenue of the country.” Speaker added.
There are about fifteen companies providing telecommunication services including internet service in Nigeria.
Source: Voice of Nigeria