Reps to engage EFCC against Telcos over alleged N200 billion NITDA debt

The House of Representatives’ Committee on Information and Communication Technology (ICT) may engage the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) to probe telecommunication companies. The committee may take the step if it found the telcos failed to remit about N200 billion to the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA).

Chairman, House of Representatives Committee on ICT, Lado Abdullahi, explained that the allegation against the telcos was that they failed to remit the required percentage of their annual turnover to NITDA to install infrastructure as stipulated in the NITDA Act.

Abdullahi disclosed that the house would ensure that the Chief Executive Officers of the nation’s telecom providers account for the remittance if found guilty. He alleged that since the Act became effective in 2007, the telecom providers have failed to remit the said amount.

“Our committee has been given a month deadline following a motion sponsored by a member from Ukwa East/West federal constituency in December 2019. The committee has not started working because the motion was moved during our last session before we went on recess and we have not resumed. 

“So when we resume, we will be able to investigate the matter. Hopefully, by 20th of this month, the committee will take off,” Abdullahi said.

Why this matters: As stated by a source at NITDA, the alleged debt that the telecom providers owe the agency has caused Nigeria to lose a verifiable source of revenue generation thus hampering development. This is because the revenue gotten from the telcos is what NITDA is supposed to use to install infrastructure.

Abdullahi said, “We want to know when last they released their turnover to the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) from 2007 till date. We also need to know whether the FIRS too gets information from them. 

“FIRS will also provide us with the turnover of each service provider from 2007 to date. The Attorney-General, Accountant-General, Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) will furnish us with useful information to do our job. 

“The process ought to have been that once the FIRS collects the money, it makes it known to the Accountant-General, who will release the same to the Ministry of Finance and then to NITDA. We are involving the Attorney-General, the Inspector General of Police (IGP), Department of State Services (DSS) and EFCC. 

“Any CEO coming to make presentation has to be on oath. They will be summoned before the national assembly to resolve the issue. The Attorney-General too will do the investigation and prosecute them accordingly.”

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