Nigerian telcos flay national assembly over harassment of CEOs
Nigerian telecommunication firms have flayed the National Assembly over some of its activities that include summoning of the sector's CEOs.
Nigerian telcos have lashed out on the National Assembly, NASS over what was described as incessant and and overlapping oversight functions being carried out by various committees of the two legislative chambers.
The telcos through their trade body, the Association of Licensed Telecom Operators of Nigeria, ALTON, berated the actions of Nigerian lawmakers, who summon chief executives of the telcos at will.
Chairman of the body, Engr. Gbenga Adebayo, said: “ALTON members have been inundated with incessant summons from different committees of the NASS served on their chief executive officers to appear before several National Assembly committees, which negatively impact on ability to focus on their business operations."
Continuing, Adebayo said: “The NASS’ insistence on attendance of CEOs at such session is without consideration of these CEOs reasonable schedule conflict or the fact that other senior management staff may be better versed and suited due to the nature of their job roles vis-a-vis the subject matter of investigation.”
Lawmakers overlap their duties
Stressing some of activities of the lawmakers engage in to slight the telcos, Adebayo noted that some of the investigative duties of the committees of the lawmaking chambers overlap and require similar information from the attendees.
“For instance, members are summoned by both the standing Committee on Telecoms and its Ad-hoc Committee on Operational activities of Telecoms Equipment and Service Providers both investigating loss of revenue to the federal government.
“The Committee on Telecoms is also investigating loss of jobs which the Committee on Labour also summons members in respect of. The committee on Telecoms also served summons for investigation by its ad-hoc committee for Value Added Services and committee investigating locally manufactured skills” he said.
Adebayo further said: “the manner of invitation borders on harassment of our members as the invitations are sometimes scheduled on the same day leading to conflict or scheduled back to back for three to four days, which will necessitate member CEOs being away from their businesses for such long periods.
“Furthermore, some of the requested information border on information within the purview of specific government agencies which the NASS could easily request the agencies to provide, such information as evidence of Tax remittances to government since inception of members operations, which could date as far back as 16 years; or confidential information which members should not be obliged to provide e.g. list of all employees and current remuneration package of these employees” he added.
Telcos drags NASS to court
Meanwhile, the telcos trade body has sued the National Assembly over some of its activities in the last three years.
In the suit, which was filed in February 2018 at the Federal High Court Abuja, the Nigerian telcos are seeking the court’s interpretation of the provisions of the constitution on the extent of the National Assembly’s oversight functions on private companies, particularly telecom companies.
The suit is also seeking an order restraining the NASS from serving any further summons on telecommunication companies pending the determination of the action.
In the suit, the telcos also prayed the court to determine specific nature of directives that can be made by NASS pursuant to the outcome of their investigative activities as well as declaration on the proprietary of the NASS to issue these summons and insist that telecom companies are represented by only their CEOs and not other senior management officers.
The telcos are also asking the court to determine the specific nature of information which the NASS can lawfully request from private companies including Telecommunications Companies, and whether it includes companies’ confidential information and information within the purview of government agencies.
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