By Adedapo Adesanya
The House of Representatives has issued a warning which include arrests and fines to MTN and 14 other telecommunication companies operating in Nigeria over the failure of their Chief Executive Officers (CEOs) to appear before the house committee on finance.
The Chairman of the Committee, Mr James Faleke, raised the motion following observations that there was a revenue leakage of over $30 billion by these companies following the declaration of huge profits and not remitting the appropriate taxes.
Mr Faleke said that the reason why the CEOs were called to appear before the House was to investigate the matter to appropriately understand why and to ensure that that the nation’s tax regime remained fair and competitive.
“The Committee of Finance and Banking and Currency, in furtherance of its obligations as directed by the House, issued letters of invitation to various corporations to submit documents of their full compliance with the laws of the federation.
“The House is 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 House notes that a judgment in favour of the National Assembly was delivered on March 13, 2020, by Her Lordship, B.F.M. Nyako J, which reiterated that ‘the National Assembly is empowered by sections 88 and 89 of the constitution to invite any persons for investigative purposes’.
“However, the telecoms 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, seeking an injunction to restrain the National Assembly from investigating their business, operations and policies, summoning them, requesting any documents or books from them, conducting any investigative hearing or meetings against [them], making oversight visits to their offices or premises for the purposes of investigating or demanding information,” the lawmaker informed his colleagues.
Commenting on the matter, Speaker of the lower chamber of the parliament, Mr Femi Gbadabiamila, said that these telecom companies are not above the law and must honour the parliament of the country in which they operate.
”We will not seat and accept the parliament handicapped. If MTN was to be summoned by the South Africa parliament, it will hurriedly honour the invitation.
“The consequence of their action is arrest and fine, the National Assembly has such powers and we will impose if they refuse to appear.
“Let it be clear that any one who turns against the parliament will have himself to blame, on this backdrop we will once again extend invitation to them, if they refuse to respond after seven days we will then be forced to impose our powers, and call for arrest and they will also be fined,” he said.
Welders Association Plan Protest Over PH Refinery Exclusion
By Adedapo Adesanya
The Association of Welders and Fitters in Nigeria has issued an ultimatum to the management of the Port Harcourt Refining Company (PHRC), requesting to be included in the ongoing rehabilitation of the oil facility or face mass protest.
During a peaceful protest at Eleme Council Secretariat, the group said the management has till Thursday to grant their request, expressing displeasure over their alleged non-inclusion in the ongoing rehabilitation of the Port Harcourt refinery.
The President of the Eleme branch of the organisation, Mr Innocent Ejire, said welders and fitters in the area are pained that the management of PHRC excluded them from jobs at the ongoing rehabilitation of the refinery.
Mr Ejire called on the management of PHRC to adhere to the Local Content Act by engaging its members, accusing the management of the refinery of giving jobs to welders from outside while sidelining those who are members of the PHRC’s host community.
“Out of 150 welders and fitters they (refinery) have taken, they have not taken anyone from our community but elsewhere like in Bonny and Omoku; NLNG contractors must give jobs to Ibani Welders and Fitters Association.
“Welders in Bonny and Omoku pass through these associations to get jobs in the companies operated there.
“But here they say no host community will work and since we cannot take the law into our hands. That is why we say let’s come and see our LGA Chairman and give them an ultimatum of 48 hours, if they don’t call us to work, we will meet at the refinery.
“We have written a series of letters which they (refinery) have acknowledged but they continue to turn us back and forth without giving us favourable response,” he said.
Similarly, the spokesperson of the association, Mr Daniel Omekea, urged the council chairman to ensure that the management of the refinery implements the Local Content Act by engaging local welders in the ongoing rehabilitation of the Port Harcourt refinery.
He regretted that Eleme, being the host community of the Port Harcourt refinery has continually been sidelined by the refinery, warning that they will resist all attempts to exclude them from benefiting from jobs at the refinery.
He also said welders and fitters under the association in Eleme are well trained and have what it takes to participate in the refinery’s rehabilitation.
“Many of us were tested and qualified for the jobs, but they did not call us for the jobs.
“There are no welding and fitting jobs we cannot do; we have worked on Shell pipelines and every other pipeline here in Eleme, so it’s not about competence.”
Responding, the Chairman of Eleme Local Government Area of Rivers State, Mr Obarilomate Ollor, promised to look into the complaints of aggrieved welders and fitters.
Mr Ollor assured that the council would initiate a meeting with the management of the refinery towards resolving the matter.
NGA Calls for Multiple Approach to Energy Transition
By Adedapo Adesanya
The Nigerian Gas Association (NGA) has called for a multidimensional approach to energy transition in Africa amid the lingering global energy crisis and increased calls for the replacement of fossil fuels with renewable energy to reduce carbon emissions.
NGA cautioned that Africa needs to be cautious and consider all the pertinent issues in transitioning from fossil fuel to cleaner and more sustainable energy sources.
According to the National Publicity Secretary of the association, Mr Odianosen Masade, fossil transition in developed economies has been going on for over a century, whilst Africa was expected to transition over a few decades.
“Africa accounts for the smallest share of global greenhouse gas emissions, at just 3.8 per cent, in contrast to 23 per cent in China, 19 per cent in the United States, and 13 per cent in the European Union.
“Africa is also the least industrialized of all the continents in the world, yet one of the most vulnerable to climate change,” he noted.
Mr Masade, who is the Corporate Communications Lead at Eroton Exploration & Production Company, also provided insights into challenges inhibiting Nigeria from maximizing the opportunities presented by the conflict in Ukraine, which has reduced the global supply of gas.
He disclosed that the lack of political will, as well as Nigeria’s lack of critical infrastructure, were some of the greatest reasons for Nigeria’s disadvantaged position.
“One such infrastructure that would have generated significant income for the country is the Trans-Saharan gas pipeline, which will traverse Nigeria, Niger and Algeria across the Sahara desert to Europe.
“It is estimated that once completed, the $13 billion pipeline would transport up to 30 billion cubic meters (1 trillion cubic feet) of natural gas per annum from Warri in Nigeria, through Niger and Algeria on to Europe,” he stated.
In July, the oil ministers of the three countries signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) and agreed to set up a task force for the project with the aim of updating an existing feasibility study.
The idea to pipe gas across the Sahara to Europe was first conceived more than 40 years ago. In 2009, an agreement was signed by the three gas-rich countries, but progress has stalled since then.
TSGP, also known as the NIGAL pipeline, may now move closer to becoming reality as Europe attempts to cut its strong dependency on Russian gas.
IGP Authorises Stop & Search, Raids, Others to Tackle Crime
By Adedapo Adesanya
The Inspector-General of Police (IGP), Mr Usman Alkali Baba, has ordered the deployment of adequate security around schools, hospitals, and critical national infrastructures across the country.
The Force Public Relations Officer, Mr Olumuyiwa Adejobi, who disclosed this in a statement on Sunday, said the IGP has also ordered regular patrols, stop and search, raids and show of force by tactical commanders to clamp down on pockets of crime and criminality in some states of the federation.
“The Inspector-General of Police, Usman Alkali Baba, has ordered the deployment of water-tight security arrangements to cover all schools, hospitals, health workers, and critical national infrastructures around the country,” the statement added.
“The IGP has equally ordered regular patrols, stop and search, raids, and show of force by tactical commanders to clamp down on pockets of crime and criminality recorded in some states of the federation,” it further said.
Mr Baba gave the directive while reviewing the reports he received from various commands and formations on the general security situations across the country.
He tasked strategic police managers at various levels to prioritize the use of intelligence gathering networks while charging officers and men of the force to take the fight against crime to the doorsteps of suspected criminal elements with a view to flushing them from their hideouts.
The IGP also called for the cooperation of members of the public, warning police officers to be civil, professional, and humane in the course of discharging their duties.
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