…As Reps summon telecom firms over alleged defaults in taxes, others***
A High Court of the Federal Capital Territory ( FCT ), in Bwari, Abuja, on Thursday issued a bench warrant for the arrest of the Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer of Access Bank Plc, Herbert Wigwe and two others.
Also named in the arrest warrant were senior official of the bank, Mrs. Neka Adogu and Access Bank Plc.
Justice Othman Musa issued the arrest warrant after lawyer for the prosecution, Osuebeni Akposinimingha complained of difficulty in getting Wigwe and others to attend court to answer charges pending against them.
The Independent Corrupt Practices and other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) had last week filed a four-count charge marked CR/32/2017 against Wigwe and others, following which the court fixed Thursday for their arraignment.
Wigwe, Mrs. Adogu and the bank are accused among others, of refusing to unfreeze some accounts belonging to two customers – Blaid Construction Limited and Blaid Properties Limited, even after a court order and a directive to that effect from the ICPC.
At the Thursday’s proceedings, Akposinimingha said, although it was the prosecution’s responsibility to produce the defendants in court for arraignment, the prosecution was having constraints producing the defendants.
In the meantime, the House of Representatives ad-hoc committee investigating the operations of telecommunications service providers and vendors yesterday summoned some heads of telecoms companies in the country over alleged non-payment of taxes and the required percentages of their profits to the Federal Government.
According to the chairman of the committee, Ahmed Abu, those invited are managing directors of 9mobile, Etisalat Nigeria and Globacom Nigeria.
He said the summon became necessary following the failure of the companies to turn up for the various hearings of the companies, despite repeated letters of invitation sent to them. He warned that further disregard for the invitation might compel the committee to issue bench warrants against the companies.
“This is not about me. It is about the House of Representatives, and we are representing Nigerians. A situation where invitations would be issued to telecommunications companies over issues that affect Nigerians and they fail to appear before us is unfortunate.
“What we are saying is that if things are done right, the creative industry, for instance, can generate so much revenues for the players in it and the government,” he said.
The lawmaker wondered why the National Lottery Trust Fund has, as required by law, been unable to rake in appreciable revenues for the government based on existing legislations regulating the operations of the firms and lottery activities in the country.
But in his submission, the Executive Secretary of the fund, Habu Gumel, said the government had made N530m in the last nine years from the companies doing business in the country.
He blamed the poor remittances on “under-declaration of remittances by operators and lack of credible database to ascertain the actual and precise amount due to government as returns for good causes. “
Gumel’s position was supported by the representative of the National Lottery Regulatory Commission (NLRC), Okechukwu Odunna, who decried the mechanisms for tracking businesses of the telecommunications firms from where parts of the proceeds are to be measured by the government.
Citizen with additional report from Guardian NG