OPSN laments incessant harassment by NASS

The Organised Private Sector of Nigeria (OPSN) has raised the alarm over frequent harassment of her members by various Committees and Ad-hoc Committees of the National Assembly.

Briefing journalists in Abuja, Director General of Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN) Segun Ajayi-Quadri said Sections 88 and 89 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 as amended which the lawmakers relied for the incessant invitation, do not include the private business owners.

He urged the National Assembly to invite agencies of government whose responsibilities are engaging with private businesses.

“While we appreciate the efforts of the National Assembly and its various Committees and Ad-hoc Committees to investigate and carry out oversight functions on Ministries, Departments and Agencies of Government, we are of the view that sections 88 and 89 of the Constitution, relied upon by the Committees of the National Assembly is not applicable to Businesses in the Private Sector.

“It is our position that from the doctrine of Separation of Powers, there are Statutory Agencies of Government in the Executive Arm that have been saddled with responsibilities to engage, inspect, audit and apportion penalties for default (if any), ensure enforcement and compliance of provisions of laws and/or legal instruments within their jurisdictions, institute legal actions against businesses in the Private Sector, where necessary, etc.

“These Agencies have been engaging businesses in the Private Sector and also carrying out their responsibilities. Thus, they should be invited to give information and account for the levels of compliance as it relates to the provisions of their enabling laws, and NOT private businesses.

“In order words, the National Assembly should not be the lawmakers and enforcers/implementers of the same laws.

“Despite the above position, businesses in the private sector are continually being inundated with letters, invitations/summons from the National Assembly – some of which are laced with threats. In response, we have over the years written several letters to the Committees, requesting for dialogue on behalf of our members, to no avail. We have approached the Committees as business membership organizations and through our Lawyers, all to no avail.

“The continuous invitation from the Committees of the National Assembly compelled us to institute an action in 2012 for the determination of the constitutionality, scope and extent of sections 88 and 89 of the 1999 Constitution on Businesses in the Private Sector. The matter is currently at the Supreme Court with Suit No/SC/734/2017,” MAN said.

The Organized Private Sector in Nigeria (OPSN) comprises MAN, Nigeria Association of Chambers of Commerce, Industry, Mines and Agriculture (NACCIMA), Nigeria Employers Consultative Association (NECA), Nigeria Association of Small-Scale Industries (NASSI) and Nigeria Association of Small and Medium Enterprises (NASME).