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NGO Asks SEC to Sack Ndukwe, Others from MTN Board

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Human and Environmental Development Agenda (HEDA) has given the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) a 14-day ultimatum to delist some members of the newly constituted board of MTN Nigeria.

 

In a petition sent to Mary Uduk, the acting director-general of SEC, HEDA said the new board members were “picked to offer the South African communications concern undue advantage in Nigeria’s political and economic environment”.

 

The listed board members are Ernest Ndukwe, former chairman of the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) now MTN chairman; Muhammad Ahmed, former chairman of the technical committee of the Nigerian Code on Corporate Governance; Omobola Johnson, a former minister for communication; and Ifueko Okauru, a former chairman of the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS).

 

HEDA said the appointments are an attempt to “insulate MTN from adverse local political action given its recent history with the regulatory agency, the  NCC, and the office of the Attorney General of the Federation, AGF”.

 

“It was reported that major mobile companies in Nigeria were fined by the NCC for failure to adhere to the law and were given a week to deactivate unregistered lines,” the petition signed by Olanrewaju Suraju, HEDA chairman, read.

“It was reported that while other mobile firms complied, MTN flouted the regulator’s instructions, leaving 5.2 million unregistered users on its network and the fine was due on November 17, 2015, but MTN managed to secure a cover-up and delayed fines until a new management and government came into office.

 

“It is a complete show of irony that Mr Ernest Ndukwe who was the Vice Chairman of Nigerian Communications Commission during the MTN infractions, the regulatory body solely responsible for the business activities of telecommunications and Mrs Mobolaji Johnson as the Communication Minister at the time of this infractions will be selected as the designate chairman and Board Member respectively by the telecommunication company.

 

“Mrs Okauru was chairman of FIRS when the allegations of MTN Nigeria’s tax evasion of over $2 billion relating to import duties, VAT, withholding tax on foreign import/payments were revealed and despite this it was reported that tranches of transfers were discovered to have been made to companies in Dubai and Mauritius as reported by Satellite Times on the 8th October, 2018 and these allegations under the nose of the former chairman was consequent upon the failure of the FIRS to undertake diligent and effective supervision and no record of investigations to confirm the authenticity or otherwise while in office.

 

“It is our firm belief that these persons who were once public office holders who ought to have acted against some activities and alleged infractions of this company but failed in their responsibilities and capacities are now being compensated with appointments into the board.”

 

Quoting rule 601 (5), HEDA said SEC is empowered by the Securities and Exchange Commission rules and regulations of 2013 to impose sanctions on registered companies and listed removal of executive officers as one of the sanctions that can be imposed.

 

The non-governmental organisation threatened that it would demand performance of its request in a court of law if no action is taken within 14 days of its petition.

 


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Telecom

Aside RoW, Other Roadblocks Hobble Telcos

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Ekiti, Kaduna, Imo, Katsina and Plateau states recently blazed the trail by implementing right of way (RoW) resolution of resolution of the Governors’ Forum in a bid to deepen broadband penetration in the country and promote a digital economy for a digital Nigeria.

Aside RoW, Other Roadblocks Hobble Telcosn

Right of way charge of per meter of fiber optics cabling is considered one of the most vexatious and biggest hindrances to growth in the industry

It is however, disheartening that some states have decided to disregard these resolutions and have, in some cases, increased the RoW charges by over 1,200 percent.

Experts believe that if all states in the country can implement the resolutions, it will facilitate digital literacy and accelerate broadband penetration across the country and also improve Nigeria’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP).

Apart from implementing the resolution on RoW, regulatory authorities must draw from its political will to prevail on the states and local governments to stop insisting on collecting taxes and levies on operators’ infrastructures such as base stations and masts.

The canker worm of multiple taxes by local, state and federal governments and their agencies is threatening the survival of the telecom sector.

At last count, the industry estimate they pay over N20 billion annually to various agencies of government.

Also, the problem of insecurity, which has assumed alarming proportions, is discouraging further investments.

Added to this, are the constant harassment, intimidation and killing of workers in the industry while equipment are stolen every day.

Another major problem is the thorny issue of Nigeria’s public power supply, which seems to have defiled all known solution.

A situation where telecom operators spend an incredible N45.9 billion (approximately $2.9 Billion) annual bill on diesels in running power supply to their infrastructure is unacceptable.

Power supply is like the nerve, in fact, the engine of production. The near absence of public power supply has a devastating effect on businesses and has forced many companies to close shop because they could no longer remain competitive.

Regulatory authorities must find appropriate way to communicate to governments at all level that the current RoW, tax, public power as well as state of insecurity cannot create a knowledge driven economy or so called new economy in which the generation and the exploitation of knowledge play the major part in the creation of wealth.


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Why Office was Withdrawn from NiDCOM- NCC

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Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) has, again, clarified that Dr. Isa Ali Ibrahim Pantami, minister of Communications and Digital Economy, was never involved in the process of offer of office allocation to the Nigerians in Diaspora Commission (NiDCOM) at the NCC’s Communications and Digital Economy Complex located at Mbora District, Abuja, as the public is being made to believe.

Why Office was Withdrawn from NiDCOM- NCC

The Commission reiterated this position in a press statement signed by Dr. Henry Nkemadu, director Public Affairs, in which it made further clarifications to the members of public and other stakeholders on the situation.

“For the avoidance of doubt, the Honourable Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Dr. Isa Ali Ibrahim Pantami, was never involved in the offer to the office space, nor in the withdrawal of the offer for same office space.  the Minister should not, therefore, be brought into the issue,” he said.

According to Dr. Nkemadu, the decision to withdraw the offer of office space from NiDCOM was purely of the NCC, the custodian of the office complex.

“It should, however, be made abundantly clear that the withdrawal of the offer of the office space, which was unconditionally given, in the first instance, to NiDCOM, was informed by exigencies and change in priorities within the NCC, which led to the taking back of the office space earlier allocated with intention of finding a suitable replacement for NiDCOM,” he said.

The Commission therefore reiterates its confidence in the leadership, person and office of the Honourable Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Dr. Isa Ali Ibrahim Pantami


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MTN Nigeria Commences Payment of 2019 Company Income Tax Obligations

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MTN Nigeria has initiated payments for its 2019 Company Income Tax (CIT) obligations ahead of the statutory deadline of June 30th, in line with the request by the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) to corporate taxpayers whose operations are able to remain open during the COVID-19 pandemic.

As a result of constructive engagements with its Board and Management, MTN Nigeria agreed to continue its existing practice of initiating early payment for its CIT obligations.

In this regard, it has committed to making full payment in a series of instalments ahead of the June 30th deadline. As a demonstration of this commitment, it has made payment of the first instalment.

FIRS would like to thank MTN for this demonstration of support for Nigeria during a time of significant disruption to the nation’s economy, and also to MTN’s own business.

FIRS Chairman, Muhammad Nami is particularly happy with this prompt response by MTN Nigeria and urges other companies to emulate MTN Nigeria so that together we shall continue to support the growth of Nigeria’s economy as well as business enterprises in the country.

Commenting on the agreement, Ferdinand Moolman, ceo, MTN Nigeria said: “We value the relationship that we have built with the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) and are pleased to be able to deepen that relationship by collaborating closely with the government and its agencies to manage the challenge that COVID-19 represents to the nation.

“Conscious of the role companies’ play in sustaining government revenue and services, MTN has consistently initiated payments towards our CIT obligations well ahead of statutory deadlines and despite prevailing conditions.

“This year, the Board of MTN Nigeria has once again approved advance payments towards our annual tax obligations.”


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