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Reps To Probe Multichoice N1.8trn, $342m Debt To Nigeria



The House of Representatives Wednesday mandated its Committee on Finance to carry out a comprehensive investigation into the alleged non-remittance of tax revenues by Multichoice Nigeria to the Federation totalling N1.8trillion and $342 million respectively with a particular focus on the suppression of information discovered from their submissions in their home country.

It also cautioned potential buyers of Multichoice Nigeria, Multichoice Africa or any other subsidiaries of the Multichoice Group operating in Nigeria to be aware of the alleged outstanding indebtedness, which may have been covered in their papers.

The resolution was consequent upon the approval of a motion sponsored by the Chairman of the House Committee on Finance, Hon. Saidu Abdullahi (APC, Niger) at the plenary.

While presenting the motion, Saidu noted that the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) was established in 2007 as one of the revenue collection Agencies, and is expected to collect revenue on behalf of the Federation and remit the same to the government’s treasury;

He said the oversight functions of the National Assembly as provided by sections 88 and 89 of the 1999 Constitution (as amended) are to enable the Legislature to investigate within its legislative competence in order to prevent and expose corruption, inefficiency or waste in the execution or administration of laws made by it;

“Aware that Multichoice, a prominent multinational corporation operating in Nigeria, has been accused of non-remittance of tax revenues due to the Federation, as evidenced by the suppression of information discovered from the submissions in their home country;

“Also Aware of the fact that Nigerian Economy is currently facing significant challenges, with dwindling revenue posing a threat to the overall fiscal stability and development of the Country;

“Cognisant that the Federal Inland Revenue Service had engaged a consultant in 2021 under a Whistleblowing contract to carry out an audit of the tax obligations of Multichoice Nigeria and MultiChoice Africa to ascertain the company’s tax indebtedness to the Country. Their findings led to a back audit and investigation carried out by the FIRS from 2011 to 2020”, Abdullahi submitted.

According to him, previous attempts by FIRS to recover the unpaid taxes through legal means; including court proceedings and the subsequent resolution to settle out of the court by both parties has not yielded the desired result;

He observed that the systems audit and investigation revealed enormous indebtedness to the tune of over N1.8 trillion in back total taxes for MultiChoice Nigeria, and $342 million in Value-added tax, for MultiChoice Africa, which had never paid any taxes since they started business operations in Nigeria. Both amounts were levied upon the Multichoice Group by the FIRS.

The lawmaker expressed concerns that there are ongoing arrangements to sell Multichoice Nigeria and other Multichoice Group Subsidiaries in Nigeria to a foreign Interest, while this tax indebtedness remains outstanding;

He expressed worry that if urgent actions are not taken to recover these tax revenues from the Multichoice Group, Nigeria may lose such huge revenue that can inject life into the economy.

He stressed the responsibility of the House to uphold the principles of transparency, accountability and the rule of law in matters pertaining to public finance and taxation.

The lawmaker argued that “The urgency and necessity of conducting a thorough investigation into the non-remittance of tax revenues by Multichoice to the Federation, with a view to ascertaining the veracity of the allegations and taking appropriate action to safeguard the interests of the Nigerian people”.

The motion was endorsed without debate.