House Asks NCDC to Test Multichoice CEO for COVID-19


By Udora Orizu

The House of Representatives Ad hoc Committee investigating non- implementation of the pay-as -you- go tariff plan by satellite broadcasters and DSTV subscription price increase has asked Director General of the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), Dr. Chikwe Ihekweazu, to find the CEO of Multichoice, John Ugbe, and test him for COVID-19.

The resolution of the Committee was due to the second letter written by Ugbe to the Committee, saying he won’t be able to appear before the Committee having come down with an illness after arriving Abuja on Tuesday for the hearing.

Ugbe had first written to the Committee following a letter from the Committee dated July 6, inviting him for the hearing scheduled to hold on 17th July 2020.

He told the Committee that due to pre-scheduled engagements with its shareholders, they would be unable to appear before it and humbly seek the indulgence of the Committee in rescheduling the hearing to July 22, 2020.

However, the Multichoice CEO failed to show up again for the rescheduled meeting, writing another letter to the Committee that he’s unwell.

In the second letter, signed by Gozie Onumonon, Head of Regulatory Affairs on his behalf and addressed to Chairman of the Committee, Hon. Unyime Idem, he appealed to the Committee to reschedule the meeting again, until he regains his health and cleared by his medical doctor.

The letter reads, ”We regret to inform the Committee that we would be unable to appear before it today due to a sudden illness of our Chief Executive Officer, after arriving in Abuja yesterday for this meeting. Because of the abundance of caution needed to be taken in line with the current pandemic, we believe it is necessary that the meeting be deferred until he has regained his health and is cleared by his medical doctor.”

”In the meantime, we will submit written submissions to the Committee to assist the committee in its investigations. We sincerely apologize for any inconvenience caused to the Committee and please be assured of our best efforts at all times.”

Consequently, a member of the Committee, Hon. Julius Pondi, moved a motion directing the NCDC to locate the CEO, John Ugbe and test him for COVID-19 since he alluded that he was having cough and not feeling well. The motion also directed the NCDC to report back to the House within four days.

In his contribution, Hon. Prestige Ossy, frowned at the CEO for failing to honor summons, saying he should be sanctioned.

He said, ”This person is taking the Committee for a ride. If he had written us or the Doctor where he is hospitalize, then we will talk about it. But where he is in his house and we are all here seated waiting for him to come and he didn’t send any representative, this is the very height of neglect of parliamentary invitation and necessary sanctions should be invoked to make him appear as quickly as possible.”

Ruling, the Chairman of the Committee Hon. Idem Unyime, directed the Clerk of the Committee to Communicate the decision to the Director General of NCDC.

The Committee, while passing the resolution, also asked the NCDC to immediately commence contact-tracing of passengers in the plane with him, and those he may have had contact with at the airport.