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Published On: Fri, Dec 15th, 2017

Reps summon 9mobile, Glo for alleged defaults in taxes

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By Umar Muhammad Puma

The House of Representatives ad hoc committee investigating the operations of telecommunications service providers, equipment and vendors has summoned
9mobile and Globacom Nigeria over allegations of non payments of taxes and the required percentages of their profits to federal government.
Chairman of the committee Rep Ahmed Abu (APC Niger), said the summon became necessary following the failure of the companies to turn up for the various hearings of the companies, despite repeated invitations to them. He said the letters to convey the summons to the firms, for a meeting with the committee, were being compiled, saying that further disregard for the invitations might compel the committee to issue bench warrants against the companies.
“This is not about me. It’s about the House of Representatives, and we’re representing Nigerians. A situation where invitations will be issued to telecommunications companies over issues that affect Nigerians and they fall to appear before us, is rather unfortunate.
“What we are saying is that if things are done right, the creative industry, for instance, can generate so much revenues for the players in it and the government,” he said.
He further wondered why the National Lottery Trust Fund has, as required by law, been unable to rake in appreciable revenues for the government based on existing legislations regulating the operations of the firms and lottery activities in the country.
But in his submission, the Executive Secretary of the fund, Engr Habu Gumel said the government has only raked in N530m in the last nine years from the companies doing business in the country.
He said the poor remittances, which represent value for lottery money, was on account of “issue of under-declaration of remittances by operations, lack of credible database to ascertain the actual and precise amount due to government as returns for good causes. “
Gumel’s position was supported by the representative of National Lottery Regulatory Commission (NLRC), Okechukwu Odunna, who decried mechanisms for tracking businesses of the telecommunications firms, from where parts of the proceeds were to be measured by the government.
In adjourning the hearing, Abu allayed fears that the panel was working at crossroads with the statutory committee of the House, saddled with the mandate of oversighting the companies.
He said it was due to the sensitivity of the issues that the House mandated the panel to conduct probe into the activities of the firms.
Corporate Relations Executive of MTN Nigeria Communication Ltd, Tobechukwu Okigbo had in a reply of the panel’s invitation letter, dated 8th December, 2017, lamented a situation where the panel would be requesting similar documents it had earlier forwarded to the House standing committee, upon request, saying the two requests appeared as if the two bodies were working at cross purposes.
“To that extent, we are unable to provide lottery -related information to the honourable committee.
“We understand the current situation to mean that the House of Representatives requires all relevant submissions to be made to the standing Committee on Telecommunications rather than the adhoc committee. This situation requires clarification to prevent our inadvertently running afoul of any committee,” Okigbo said.

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