MEMBERS of the House of Representatives Committee on Communications, yesterday, politely asked the representative of MTN to leave the venue of the public hearing on the operator’s N1.04 trillion fine.
Immediately the investigative hearing started, a member of the committee, Ossai Nicholas Ossai, PDP, Delta, had raised an objection that those invited had failed to show up, insisting that those present could not stand in for them. Ossai quoted extensively from Sections 88 and 89 of the constitution that empowered the committee to invite anybody, no matter how highly placed. But Chairman of the committee, Akinade Fijabi, APC, Oyo, guided Ossai, explaining that the management of MTN had written earlier to say the committee should refer its findings to Nigerian Communications Commission, NCC. The committee’s clerk had read the letter which further irked the committee members, who at this point, asked MTN’s representative to leave the hearing. Attempts by the manager of the company on Government Affairs, Mr Austin Iyasere, to identify himself as the representative of the carrier was ignored. At this point, the committee members resolved that the Managing Director of the company, Mr Ferdinand Moolman, should appear before it and adjourned sine die. Meanwhile, the letter, which spurred the action, entitled, “Re: Amicable Settlement Negotiations With The FG,” read: “We note your reference to the above subject matter mentioned above. “In this regard, we wish to refer you to the appropriate government agencies, specifically the Nigerian Communications Commission, Offices of the Honourable Ministers of Communication and Justice as well as the Central Bank of Nigeria which agencies are in a position to furnish your committee with relevant information on this issue. “As you know, MTN is pursuing amicable settlement negotiations with the Federal Government. We believe you will understand that processes of this kind require sensitivity and confidentiality on all sides. “Accordingly, we are unable to make any further comments about the process at this stage. We trust that we can call upon your sound judgment at all times and that this process be allowed to continue in order for the parties to be given the opportunity to reach a settlement as envisaged by the court when it adjourned the matter for that purpose on January 22, 2016.” The letter was signed by the company’s CEO, Ferdinand Moolman, and one Amina Oyagbola. Chairman of the committee in a brief chat with journalists, after the committee adjourned, said: “We have invited the MD, if he fails to show up, we will approach the Inspector General of Police and, through him, order for his arrest.”