The Kogi state government on Wednesday countered the claims of the Association of Licensed Telecommunications Operators (ALTON) over the shutting down of facilities in the State, saying the action was based on court orders.
The government added that the closure was based on the refusal of the affected service providers to pay the fees and rents due to it.
This is just as mobile telecommunication subscribers in the State have in the last four days been having hectic time making use of the services following the disputes between the state government and some service providers.
Many have been finding it difficult to access phone and internet services as the state government had shut down the facilities of some of the major service providers in the sector over non-payment of fees and rents.
Mostly affected by the disputes are the MTN and Airtel that were accused of evading payment of such dues to the state government.
But the Director of Legal and Enforcement of Kogi State Internal Revenue Service (KGIRS), Jamil Isah, while speaking over the impasse, said some of the fees and rents had been due since 2006 without any action from the telecommunication companies.
He noted that KGIRS had since the inception of the present administration been sending several demand notices to the companies but they have continued to refuse to pay these fees and levies, while only paying their PAYE.
He said based on this, Kogi State Internal Revenue Service (KGIRS) proceeded to court in 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.
“The major players that are affected for now are MTN and Airtel. The sites that have been shut for Airtel are just 5 while for MTN I don’t believe are up to 10, so the 150 number is not correct.
“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 allows 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. The penalty for failure to pay for right of Way Permit and some other penalties are included,” he noted.
He added that all these payments were to be paid based on a law of the Kogi State House of Assembly, stressing that Kogi has a duly passed law which allows KGIRS to collect the levies and fees.
He posited that on this understanding, Airtel has come back to the negotiating table to negotiate and pay what is due to them and pleaded that some of the Court added penalties be waived to lessen the burden on them.