Nigeria At Risk As Court Shuts Down MTN Over N120M
… As Security expert, MTN React
By Pelumi Olaleye
With the shut down of MTN Nigeria stations in Lokoja and Obajana on Wednesday by the Kogi State Internal Revenue Service (KGIRD) over tax fee, security expert say Nigeria may be at risk over national security.
The expert, who is Russian born but United States based, Roy Veltri said only in Africa will laws be taken arbitrary without security implications.
“If a dominant operator is shut down, it affects other smaller operators who fly on such wings. Security is of paramount importance no matter the issue. We hear that Nigeria is not stable politically and many deaths arising from insurgents. Shutting down is of no use to anyone but dialogue should relax both parties. Security should not be compromised because insurgents could use that to plan another massive attack”, he said.
The shut down according to Kogi state was due to refusal of the telecom service provider to pay it’s outstanding tax fee of N120 million to the state government.
Director, legal services and enforcement of KGIRS, Jamil Isah, the Kogi State Internal Revenue Service (KGIRD) had in October stopped the activities of MTN facilities and base stations across the state, pior to an order given by the state High Court which gave it the authorization to distrain the services of the telecom provider.
Jamil, who led his team to seal the telecom facilities on Mount Patti, at Obajana said, “The state governor heeded the intervention of the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) when its officials came and ordered the opening of the sealed MTN base stations to allow for negotiations,” he said.
“Since then, MTN did not take any steps to redeem its tax obligations in spite of court orders and has failed to make payment. MTN has engaged in various means to subvert the order of the court.
“Only on Tuesday, Jan. 22, MTN offered a cheque of N250,000, which we outrightly rejected. This is a manifestation of the resolve of MTN to disregard the laws of Kogi State, and to use other government agencies to subvert court order.” He said.
Reacting, MTN Nigeria regrets the disruption of services to its customers in Kogi and some neighbouring states and remains fully committed to working with the Kogi state government and the relevant regulatory authorities in reaching a timely and lasting solution.
According to MTN’s Corporate Relations Executive, Tobechukwu Okigbo, the Taxes and Levies Act which introduces the social service contribution and economic development levies mandates the Joint Tax Board to recommend chargeable fees which will be subject to the Minister of Finance’s approval.
“To the best of our knowledge, the Minister of Finance’s recommendation as provided in the Act is yet to be issued, and as such, it is unclear if the imposition of the fee by the Kogi State Government is on solid legal footing. As a responsible corporate citizen, we accord the highest priority to our sub-national tax commitments. We wish to state that we have met in full all our tax obligations to the Kogi State government and are not in arrears.
“On request, we have furnished the KGIRS on multiple occasions with documentary evidence proving our full compliance with extant state laws on the matter. At this stage, the demands of the KGIRS, if honoured, amounts to multiple taxation and the arbitrary shut down of our base transceiver stations and harassment of our partners will stand in the way of a reasonable resolution,”he said.