The Association of Licensed Telecommunications Operators of Nigeria (ALTON) has raised alarm over imminent telecoms blackout in Kogi, nine states, and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).
In a release made available to the Next Edition, the operators called for an urgent intervention to salvage the situation.
The statement read, “The Association of Licensed Telecommunications Operators of Nigeria (ALTON)
wishes to express its concern about the shutting down of telecommunications facilities in Kogi State as a result of disputes arising from unusual taxes and levies demanded by the Kogi State Government through Its Kogi State Internal Revenue Service (KIRS).
“This issue is likely to lead to a total communications blackout in the entire Kogi State, parts of Abuja the Federal Capital Territory and possible impact on service availability in some parts of the following States: Nassarawa, Benue, Enugu, Anambra, Edo, Ondo, Ekiti, Kwara, Niger States. These are States sharing borders with Kogi State.
“This situation arises as a number of critical telecommunications sites belonging to our members have been closed and sealed up by Kogi State Government in an attempt to increase its Internally Generated Revenue IGR Collection.
“This action followed an ex-parte court order obtained by the KIRS over unsubstantiated allegations that our members are in default of tax payments to the state government (which is not the truth) and access to these critical telecom sites has been denied.
“As result of these actions by the state government, our members are unable to refuel power generators in these sites, a situation which has led to outage of over 70 sites including hub sites across 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 inclusive.
“We are very concerned that this indiscriminate action has the potential of further leading to a total telecommunications outage in Kogi State with neighboring states and parts of the Federal Capital Territory adversely impacted.
“To the best of our knowledge, our members have settled all statutory levies and taxes due to the Kogi State Government and have taken necessary steps to comply with local laws that govern business activities within Kogi State.
These are charges described as:
Annual Right of Way (ROW) renewal
Social Services contribution
Employee Economic Development Levy,
Mast site premises renewal
Fire service yearly renewal,
Others are from the kogi State Environmental Protection Board on:
Payment of environmental levy
Failure to submit an environmental impact assessment report;
Failure to register industry;
Failure to submit environmental audit report every 2 years;
Storage of petroleum products and radioactive materials without written permission from KSEPB.”