After NCC’s Intervention, Kogi Governor Orders Unsealing of BTS

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Yahaya Bello

Emma Okonji

For fear of possible breakdown of telecoms services across the country, the Kogi State Governor, Yahaya Bello, Wednesday, ordered the unsealing of telecoms Base Transceiver Stations (BTS), following a meeting with the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) in Lokoja, the state capital.

The order to unseal the affected BTS would restore telecoms service to over 120 sites within the state and the neighboring states, that were hitherto affected.

The state had shut down the BTSs following a standoff with telecom operator over revenue related contention.

NCC’s Executive Com-missioner Stakeholder Mana-gement, Mr. Sunday Dare, led the delegation that included officials of the affected Telcos to the meeting which was held in the governor’s office.

In attendance were IHS, MTN and ATC as well as the head of the Kogi State Inland Revenue Service and Chief of Staff to the governor.

Governor Bello also directed that court cases instituted by the state be withdrawn and amicable settlement reached between the telcos and the state government.

The Association of Licensed Telecommunications Operators of Nigeria (ALTON), had raised the alarm that the Kogi State Internal Revenue Service got court injunction to seal several telecoms base stations in the state, a situation that affected over 120 sites within the state and the neighbouring states. ALTON said the action could lead to total outage in 10 states, including Kogi State and Abuja, the federal capital territory, and could affect telecoms services in the country, and called for urgent government intervention.

Chairman of ALTON, Gbenga Adebayo, had said Abuja and 10 other states would experience total outage of telecoms services in the next few days, following the immediate shutdown of several base stations by the Kogi State Internal Revenue Service.

Adebayo listed the states to include Kogi, Nassarawa, Benue, Enugu, Anambra, Edo, Ondo, Ekiti, Kwara, Niger States, including Abuja.

Adebayo, said the total outage would not only affect telecoms services, but would also affect banking services like Automated Teller Machines (ATM), Point of Sales (PoS) that are used for financial transactions, since such financial services are delivered on the platform of telecoms infrastructure. He said the imminent outage would also affect national security issues in the ten states and Abuja, should there be any delay in addressing the issue.

Adebayo therefore called on the presidency, the Office of the National Security Adviser (ONSA), and the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), to quickly call Kogi State government to order before its action would cripple telecommunications service offerings in the country.

Adebayo has however hailed the decision of the state governor to order the unsealing of the affected base stations in the stare.

Explaining what led to the shut down, Adebayo said the state action followed an ex-parte court order obtained by the Kogi State Internal Revenue Service over unsubstantiated allegations that telecoms operators were in default of tax payments to the state government.