- Insists no institution is above parliament
James Emejo in Abuja
The House of Representatives Ad-hoc Committee investigating the activities of telcoms operators and vendors thursday issued what it termed the final opportunity for some chief executives of major telecommunications companies to appear before it to avert arrest.
Speaking at the resumed hearing, Chairman of the committee, Hon. Ahmed Abu, while issuing the final summon for Chairman of Globacom, Dr. Mike Adenuga Jr.; Globacom Group Chief Operating Officer, Mr. Mohammed Jameel and Chief Executive of 9Mobile, Mr. Boye Olusanya to appear before it, warned that â€œthe proceeding for warrant of arrest is close to the chest of this committee.â€
Also summoned for the last time was the former Chairman of the defunct Etisalat Nigeria, Mr. Hakeem Bello Osagie.
The committeeâ€™s decision followed repeated entreaty to the parties to appear before it and clarify allegations of tax evasion amounting to about N143 billion; breach of contract between telecoms operators and value added services providers, particularly in the areas of lottery activities; five per cent VAT charge on recharge cards among other activities considered as unfriendly business practices.
The investigative hearing is as a result of the resolution of the House at plenary over a motion on the need to probe alleged foul play in the telecommunications sector.
However, in moving the motion for their arrest, which was later amended to a final summon, a member of the committee, Hon. Darlington Nwokocha (PDP, Abia) said:â€When invites are being extended to people, institutions and agencies, it is expected that they respond; for whatever reasons that they are not able to come the first time or the second time and the reasons are not quite genuine, I think it behoves on this House to reason otherwise and to invoke the necessary instrument that can put us on the right track.
â€œI think there are one or two persons, leaders of particular organisations- 9Mobile and Etisalat- Several invites had been extended to them and our procedures have not been accordingly progressing as desired because the necessary information we expect from them have not been given to us.â€
Also, in ruling on the summons, Abu further noted that â€œAlso, we invited Globacom and I canâ€™t even remember the last time Globacom attended any of our meetings and Globacom is supposed to be the home-grown company.
â€œI think weâ€™ll make a fool of ourselves to talk about MTN, Airtel and 9Mobile and leave Globacom out of it…so, theyâ€™ve not honoured any of our invitations. And I have just been informed by the office that we actually wrote Mr. Adenuga; anyway, this is a tough one but for the interest of this institution, the summary of all what Iâ€™ve said today is that no one is bigger than the institution called parliament. We oversee so many things; the parliament is the conscience of this country and I think you all agree with me.
â€œBut in the interest of this institution as the conscience of this nation, we know he (Adenuga) is a Nigerian and weâ€™ll keep it just at our right hand side, an arrest warrant if the Glo company fails to honour any of the invitations not from Hon. Ahmed Abu, not from this adhoc committee but from the House of Representatives because this is a resolution of the House.â€