The Association of Licensed Telecommunications Operators of Nigeria (ALTON) has expressed concern over the closure of telecommunications facilities in Kogi State following disputes over unusual taxes and levies demanded by the Kogi State Government through the Kogi State Internal Revenue Service (KIRS).
The group, in a statement released by the President, Gbenga Adebayo, and Chief of Operations, Gbolahan Awonuga, said the problem is likely to lead to a complete communication blackout in the state, parts of the capital territory. (FCT) Abuja and possible impact on service availability in parts of the following states: Nasarawa, Benue, Enugu, Anambra, Edo, Ondo, Ekiti, Kwara and Niger, as these states share borders with Kogi.
The state further explained that the situation arose because a number of critical member-owned telecommunications sites were shut down and sealed off by the state government in an effort to increase its collection of revenue generated in internal (IGR).
The statement read in part: “This action follows an ex parte court order obtained by KIRS on unsubstantiated allegations that our members are in default of paying taxes to the state government (which does not is not the truth) and access to these critical telecommunications sites has been denied.
“As a result of these actions by the state government, our members are unable to supply the electrical generators at these sites, a situation which has resulted in the outage of over 70 sites, including central sites in some parts of Kogi State. Now, with likely impact on nine states surrounding Kogi (namely: Nasarawa, Benue, Enugu, Anambra, Edo, Ondo, Ekiti, Kwara, Niger States. These are states sharing borders with Kogi State), and Abuja, the FCT included. »
The group has hinted that it is very concerned that the indiscriminate action has the potential to lead to a total telecommunications blackout in the state with neighboring states and parts of the FCT adversely affected.
The statement revealed that members have paid all statutory levies and taxes due to the state government and have taken the necessary steps to comply with local laws that govern business activities in the state, noting that the fees described are the annual renewal of the right-of-way (ROW). , social security contributions, employee economic development contribution, etc. While others from the state environmental protection board are the payment of an environmental tax, failure to submit an environmental impact assessment report and failure to register the industry.
Continuing, the statement read: “ALTON is concerned that the action of KIRS will jeopardize the communications services we provide to security agencies such as the Nigerian Police, Armed Forces in addition and other emergency and social services. in Kogi and other neighboring states.. This will include affecting communication links with Automated Teller Machines (ATMs) in these states.
“The current outage is already affecting the ability of our members to provide uninterrupted services to commercial banks, the Central Bank of Nigeria, the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation and other essential government agencies in the aforementioned locations.
“It is pertinent to note that the Office of the National Security Advisor to the President has in the past communicated to all 36 state governments that telecommunications sites are critical national infrastructure (CNI). These are essential socio-economic and security infrastructures. The agency had strongly advised against sealing them as such actions would have negative national security implications.
“State governments have been encouraged to explore other means of resolving tax-related disputes rather than sealing off telecom sites. It is therefore worrying that KIRS continues to ignore this advice. Our members have also made several overtures to Kogi State Internal Revenue Service’s KIRS over the past few months in a bid to resolve contentious issues amicably, but the agency has remained adamant. Rather than resorting to the Tax Arbitration Tribunal for intervention as expected of a government agency, KIRS resorted to subtle intimidation in getting sites shut down in an effort to coerce our members into accepting taxes and illegal taking.
“As an industry, this situation is very worrying and of great concern and we hereby call upon His Excellency, President Muhammadu Buhari, Vice President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo, who heads the Presidential Business Council on Ease of to do business in Nigeria to prevail over Kogi State Governor Yahaya Bello (a presidential aspirant) to reign in the matter to prevent a total breakdown of communications services in Kogi, FCT and other nine Federation states that are now under threat due to what is happening to our network in the state.