Kogi Govt Gives Reason Why It Locks Up Telecom Facilities

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In recent times, some telecommunication subscribers, especially on MTN and Airtel, in some part of Kogi State have been experiencing network problem due to an alleged locked up of the telecom facilities covering those areas by the state government.

The Kogi State Internal Revenue Service (KGIRS) however, while admitting shutting down some telecom base, it disagreed with the numbers as alleged by the Association of Licensed Telecommunications Operators of Nigeria (ALTON).

ALTON had said the state government shut down 150 telecom base stations.

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But in a statement released by KGIRS on Wednesday in Lokoja, The Director, Legal Services and Enforcement of the agency, Barr. Jamil Isah, explained that only five sites of Airtel and about 10 sites of MTN were sealed for tax defaults following a court order obtained from a state High Court to distrain them.

He said: “The fees demanded from the two telecommunications were legal and backed by law enacted by the Kogi State House of Assembly contrary to the claims made by the telecommunications operators.

“The demanded levies, rents and fees are also not illegal. In the case of Airtel, they have not paid their Right of Way permit fees which allow them to lay fibre optic cables in Kogi state.

“This payment has been due and owing since 2006. There are also outstanding yearly rents payable on the Right of Way Permits for the years 2017 and 2018.

“There is also the Annual Social Service Development Levy and the Employee Economic Annual Development Levy. Penalty for failure to pay for right of Way Permit and some other penalties are included.

“The KGIRS has since this administration been sending several demand notices to the telecommunications outfits but had continued to refuse paying these fees and levies while only paying their PAYE.

“Based on this, Kogi State Internal Revenue Service (KGIRS) proceeded to court in accordance with the law and obtained an order to distrain the business premises of Airtel and MTN to recoup the sum owed, the court having adjudged that they were due and owing.”

He however said that negotiations were currently ongoing between the agency and Airtel, expressing optimism that their sites would be opened shortly.

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