House of Reps. summon telecoms firm over tax evasion

An ad-hoc committee of the House of Representatives on Thursday have summoned the chief executive officers of some telecommunications firms operating in the country over alleged default in the payment of taxes.

The committee, which is chaired by Mr. Ahmed Abu, is investigating the tax compliance status of the affected firms.

Abu said the CEOs had ignored several earlier invitations to appear before the committee and answer questions.

He stated that the summons had become the last resort to compel the CEOs to appear before the committee.

Abu spoke further, “This is not about me but it is the House of Representatives. We represent Nigerians. A situation where invitations will be issued to telecommunications companies over issues that affect Nigerians and they fail to appear before us is rather unfortunate.

“What we are saying is that if things are done right, the industry, for instance, can generate so much revenue for the players and the government.”

However, MTN Nigeria Communication Limited sought clarification on why the firm had received multiple invitations from two committees of the House on the same subject matter.

The Corporate Relations Executive, MTN, Tobechukwu Okigbo, in a response to the invitation, stated that the firm had already submitted documents to the House Committee on Telecommunications.

MTN, which asked whether the two committees were not reporting to the same House, specifically stated that it was unable to respond to any enquiries on lottery operations.

Okigbo said, “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 ad hoc committee.

“This situation requires clarification to prevent our inadvertently falling foul of any committee.”

But, Abu clarified that the ad hoc committee had a specific mandate to deal with tax issues and wind down, while the telecommunications committee was a standing committee of the House.

The committee also took on the National Lottery Trust Fund and expressed concern that it had not been able to generate substantial revenue for the government.

The agency’s Executive Secretary, Mr. Habu Gumel, had informed the committee that only N530m was generated in the past nine years.


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