By Naomi Uzor
The Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN) has kicked against the threat to arrest 30 Chief Executive Officers of some of its member companies by the Senate Committee on Customs, Excise and Tariff, over N30 trillion revenue leakage in the import and export value chain between 2006 and 2017.
Recall that Chairman of the Senate Committee gave the threat over non-appearance of CEOs of the affected companies in person at the public hearing to investigate companies alleged to be involved in the revenue leakage.
In a statement by President of MAN, Dr Frank Jacobs, he said: “In the first instance, this allegation is against respective companies and not the CEOs as individuals and so if the concerned companies in their wisdom choose to mandate a representative from the organisation who has adequate knowledge and responsibility for the issue in question to attend the inquest, we see no justification for the rejection of such a representative, not to talk of the threat of arrest of the CEOs for not attending the public hearing in person.
“Moreover, one would have expected that the logical and first thing to do was for the Committee to channel its observations or inquest to the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS), the statutory organisation in charge of imports and exports. If not satisfied with the response from NCS and after thorough investigation, the Committee may then avail the companies concerned with the details of the alleged infractions and then invite them to make necessary clarifications or defend themselves. All these could be done without the sensational involvement of the press which may result into unfair media trial.”
Jacobs reiterated that the non-appearance of the CEOs of the affected companies was not intended to disrespect the Senate but a case of shortness of notice and unavoidable absence due to reasons beyond their control.
“Our findings from the CEOs of MAN member companies affected revealed that most of them were not in the country during the time of the meeting, which informed the deployment of very senior and competent officials from their respective organisations to represent the companies. We therefore deplore this attempt to tarnish the image of the CEOs by publicly threatening them with arrest, when they have not been indicted for any wrong doing. Maligning individuals whose activities have contributed immensely to the growth of the nation’s economy is unfortunate, inappropriate and inimical to the current effort of the Nigerian government at moving the economy completely out of recession and placing it on the path of sustainable growth. At the same time, it amounts to sending wrong signal to prospective investors and casting a shadow on the safety of high net worth individuals operating in our economic space”