House to Probe Telcos over Non-remittance of N200bn

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Kemi Olaitan in Ibadan

Chairman, House of Representatives Committee on Information Communication Technology (ICT), Hon. Lado Abdullahi, yesterday said the lawmakers may involve the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) to investigate non-remittance of one per cent annual turnover of each telecoms service providers to the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA).

Abdullahi, while speaking with journalists in Ibadan last night on the efforts of the committee to meet the one-month deadline given to his committee to investigate the matter, said the House would ensure that the chief executive officers of the nation’s telecoms service providers account for why they failed to remit “just one per cent of their annual turnover to NITDA for several years since the Act became effective in 2007.”

A source at the NITDA alleged that the “telecoms service providers owe NITDA over N200 billion and this has made Nigeria lose a verifiable source of generation of revenue, thus making development in the telecoms sector to be slow or hampered.”

But, Abdullahi whose committee had been given one month to investigate the matter, following a motion sponsored by a member, representing Ukwa East/West Federal Constituency, Hon. Uzoma Nkem-Abonta, in December 2019, said “the committee has not started work, because the motion was moved during our last session before we went on recess and we are yet to resume. According to him, “When we resume, we should be able to investigate the matter. Hopefully by January 20, the committee will take off but we are writing letter to the telecoms service providers to furnish the secretariat with vital information about their annual turnover starting from 2007 till date when the NITDA Act was enacted.

“We want to know when last they release their turnover to the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) since 2007. And we also need to know whether FIRS truly gets this information from them. FIRS will also provide us with the turnover of each service providers from 2007 till date.

“The Attorney General; the Accountant General; the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) will also furnish us with useful information we need to do our job.

“The NITDA act says telecoms providers should remit one per cent of their annual turnover to NITDA, which it would use to install infrastructure. But majority of them have been defaulting – they have not been paying this money. That’s why the House has asked us to investigate the matter and prosecute the erring providers accordingly.

“We are involving the Attorney-General; the Inspector General of Police (IGP); the Department of State Security Service (DSS); and EFCC.

“The telecoms providers are coming to the House to make presentation on oath. They will be summoned before the National Assembly to resolve the issue.”

The House had in December 2019 directed the Abdullahi-led committee to investigate the collection and remittance of one per cent levy on behalf of the National Information Technology Development Fund (NITDF).

This followed the adoption of a motion of urgent public importance moved by Nkem-Abonta on the need to investigate payment and remittances of taxes accruable to NITDF established by the NITDA Act 2007.

The NITDA Act created a framework for the planning, research, development, standardisation, application, coordination, monitoring, evaluation and regulation of information technology practices, activities and systems in Nigeria.

Section 12 of the Act gives room for the establishment of the National Information Technology Development Fund, saying a levy of one per cent of the profit before tax of companies and enterprises enumerated in the Third Schedule of the Act, with an annual turnover of N100,000,000 and above should be paid into the fund.