Thousands of MTN subscribers in Kogi State have been temporarily disconnected as the state government launches an offensive against the telco. The government is accusing the telco of having local tax backlog to the tune of N120 million.
As shocking as the news appears, it has actually been lurking since late last year.
In 2018, the Kogi State government started pursing legal action against telecom operators due to an unusual backlog of telecom taxes and levies. It obtained a court order to take drastic actions against the telecom companies. At that time the telecom companies involved were not named.
Nevertheless, by November 2018, we reported that the state government had temporarily shut down several telecom infrastructures in the state.
That action disrupted telecom services in not only Kogi, but several other states like Kwara, Benue, Anambra, Edo, Ondo, Ekiti, Nasarawa and Niger and Abuja. Together, these states hold over 41 million telecom subscribers.
Kogi Goes After MTN
Now, according to news reports, a task force from the Kogi State Internal Revenue Service (KSIRS) has shut down several MTN infrastructure in the state. According to Barrister Jamil Isah, head of the KSIRS Legal Services and Enforcement department, MTN had been uncooperative.
According to him, when the state government made the first disruption last year, the NCC stepped in to address the issue. This action gave room to negotiation and possible compromises.
But rather than push for a reasonable resolution, Isah said, MTN offered to pay just N250,000 out of the N120 million it owed the state.
“MTN decided to default in respect of the liability of N120 million and offered us a cheque of N250,000 which is manifestation of the resolve of MTN to disregard the laws of Kogi State, and to use other government agencies to subvert court orders,” Barr Isah says.
He explained that the ridiculous stance of MTN necessitated further action. As a result, MTN facilities in locations like Obajana and Lokoja have been shut down.
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