Reps committee vows to sanction erring companies who failed to appear before it

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By Femi Ogunshola

 The House of Representatives ad hoc Committee investigating the recovery of outstanding debts owed by Oil and Gas companies to Nigeria has vowed to deal with companies that failed to appear before it.

The investigation is based on the report of the National Extractive Industries Extractive Initiative (NEITI) that 77 Oil and Gas companies operating in Nigeria owed the Federal Government over N2.6 trillion.

Rep. Nkeiruka Onyejeocha, who is heading the 18-member ad hoc committee, said this in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Tuesday, in Abuja.

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According to her, I don’t know why people don’t come when invited for investigation, but in this case the rule will apply.

“You are in Nigeria, doing business and the parliament invites you and the letter stated why you are being invited, so if I were in your shoes, I will come and clear my name because it is not a good record”.

She said that it would be in their own interest to appear and clear their names and exonerate themselves within the laws of the land.

She said that they had been given enough time to pay the debt they owed, adding that “as we speak those owing have not paid.

“People owe and there is evidence to show that they owe, and if you don’t pay that shows you are violating certain laws of the land,” she said.

Onyejeocha said that any company found culpable in the business agreement would have to face the law, adding that “there is no crime without punishment, so if we find you culpable of violating the business agreement you have to pay for it”.

She said that the committee had resolved to get the requisite result from the investigation, adding that companies who did business with Nigeria but failed to remit taxes, levies or royalty, would be dealt with according to the law.

“Is it lawful that people do business with Nigeria and they don’t pay taxes, levies or royalty, we will look at their papers, documents, if you say you have paid then show us the evidence.

“Then, we will give you the report that shows you have not and if you have anything contrary to suggest you have paid we clear you,” she said.

The lawmaker said that the committee was poised to recover funds that were being owed by oil and gas companies to the Nigerian government.

“We cannot continue to borrow money, it is an infraction when people withhold levies, taxes or any other payments, it does not happen anywhere, so we can’t be borrowing money while some people are owing us,” she stated. (NAN)

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