Nigeria’s House of Representatives has ordered that MultiChoice Nigeria CEO John Ugbe be tested for Covid-19 after he failed to turn up to answer a House committee’s questions.
An ad hoc House committee is currently investigating the non-implementation of the pay-as-you-go tariff plan by Nigerian satellite broadcasters and the subscription increase for MultiChoice’s DStv service.
It has now instructed Chikwe Ihekweazu, director general of the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), to find and test Ugbe after his non-appearance.
Ugbe twice failed to appear before the committee and in the second of two letters said his absence resulted from an illness he had contracted after arriving in Abuja on Tuesday for the hearing.
The letter was signed by Gozie Onumonu, MultiChoice’s head of regulatory affairs, on his behalf and addressed to the chairman of the committee, Unyime Idem. The letter appealed to the committee to again reschedule the meeting until Ugbe regains his health and is cleared by his doctor.
The letter reads: “We regret to inform the committee that we would be unable to appear before it today due to a sudden illness of our chief executive officer, after arriving in Abuja yesterday for this meeting. Because of the abundance of caution needed to be taken in line with the current pandemic, we believe it is necessary that the meeting be deferred until he has regained his health and is cleared by his medical doctor.
“In the meantime, we will submit written submissions to the committee to assist the committee in its investigations. We sincerely apologise for any inconvenience caused to the committee and please be assured of our best efforts at all times.”
A motion was moved by a member of the committee, Julius Pondi, directing the NCDC to locate Ugbe, test him for Covid-19 and report back to the house within four days.
Another member of the committee, Prestige Ossy, added: “This person is taking the committee for a ride. If he had written us or the doctor where he is hospitalised, then we will talk about it. But where he is in his house and we are all here seated waiting for him to come and he didn’t send any representative, this is the very height of neglect of parliamentary invitation and necessary sanctions should be invoked to make him appear as quickly as possible.”
Ossy added that the NCDC should also trace other passengers who were onboard the plane with him or had any contact with him at the airport.