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House of Reps Threaten Sanctions Against MTN and Airtel for Ignoring CSR Summons, Push for Stricter Regulation

House of Reps Threaten Sanctions Against MTN and Airtel for Ignoring CSR Summons, Push for Stricter Regulation

The House of Representatives Committee on Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) has threatened to sanction telecommunications companies MTN and Airtel for repeatedly failing to honor invitations to discuss their CSR initiatives. During a public hearing in Abuja, Committee Chairman Rep. Oby Orogbu expressed frustration at the companies’ disregard for the committee’s summons, emphasizing that their non-compliance violates Section 89, 8 of the Constitution, which mandates companies to appear before the parliament when summoned.

Orogbu warned that if MTN and Airtel continue to ignore the invitations, the committee would issue a warrant of arrest against them. She stressed that the telecommunications companies, despite operating extensively in Nigeria, have shown disrespect by not attending the hearings. Orogbu highlighted that the companies benefit significantly from Nigeria but fail to be accountable to its legislative body.

The hearing also focused on a bill to regulate CSR in Nigeria. The proposed bill aims to sanction companies that default on their CSR obligations. During the hearing, the representative of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Mr. Wondi Ndanusa, expressed support for the bill but suggested that penalties should be more persuasive rather than punitive. He also recommended that CSR regulation be managed by the Corporate Affairs Commission to avoid overburdening companies already facing significant financial responsibilities.

Mr. Bala Wuoir, representing the Oil Producers Trade Section, raised concerns that the Petroleum Industry Act (PIA) already requires oil companies to contribute 3% of their profits to the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), and adding more CSR obligations would be burdensome. He argued that oil companies should be exempt from the new bill.

The Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN) also opposed the mandatory regulation of CSR, arguing that it should remain voluntary. MAN’s representative, Dr. Kamarudeen Adigun, suggested that CSR should be a moral obligation rather than a regulated one, to avoid stifling corporate progress.

Despite these concerns, the House Committee insisted on the need for a robust framework to ensure companies are socially responsible and contribute to the well-being of their host communities. The bill, once enacted into law, aims to provide a legal status to CSR for better coordination and regulation, fostering sustainable development and a more just society.

Speaker of the House, Rt. Hon. Tajudeen Abbas, emphasized that CSR is a social obligation that should be coordinated and documented to protect stakeholders and communities. The committee assured that international best practices would be adopted to protect both companies and Nigerian citizens.

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