Reps give seven days for MDAs, TELCOs to appear before it

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The House of Representatives has giving seven days ultimatum to all heads of Ministries Departments and Agencies of the Federal Government, as well telecommunication companies yet to honour its summons to appear before its Committee on Finance or risk arrest.

The House issued the threat following the adoption of a motion on matter of urgent public importance introduced at Thursday’s plenary session by James Faleke, the finance committee chairman.

The lawmakers had mandated the committee to investigate the leakage in revenue of over $30 billion accruing to the federation account.

The leakage, according to the House, was as a result of the failure of some companies and institutions to remit what is due to the account, and failure in tax remittances.

At Thursday’s plenary, Faleke said the telecommunication companies have failed to appear before the committee despite several summons.

The House said it was 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 motion also said that although “a court judgment was delivered that ‘the National Assembly is empowered by sections 88 and 89 of the Constitution to invite any persons for investigative purposes, the 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.”

It held that “the move is to distract and delay the conclusion of the oversight functions of the committee in respect of the various documented infractions committed by these corporations.”

The House Speaker, Femi Gbajabiamila, however, sought for one more week for a final summons to the company before the arrest warrants are issued against them.

He said: “The legislature has the right to summon and there is no reason why we should not succumb to the majesty of our democracy by not obeying the summons.

“Of all the three arms, the one the constitution seems fit to provide power of a rest and summons is the legislature.

“If you refuse to obey the summons of the legislature, you can be held in contempt. And the consequence of that is arrest. They are subject to arrest and fines as imposed by the constitution,” the speaker submitted.

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