Again, Kogi Govt Shuts down MTN Service over N120m Debt


Yekini Jimoh in Lokoja

The Kogi State Internal Revenue Service (KSIRS) Thursday shut down the telecom service provider, MTN, in the state over alleged refusal to pay N120 million debt.

Last November, the KSIRS, upon the order of the High Court in the state granted on the account of the fact that MTN in state has failed in her responsibility and legal obligation to discharge its tax obligations to the state.

The Director, Legal Services and Enforcement of the revenue service, Jamil Isah, who led his team to seal the facilities of the telecom service provider at Mount Patti, Obajana, and other places in Lokoja, disclosed that MTN refused to meet its obligation of over N120 million to the state government.

He added that following the intervention of the state Governor, Yahaya Bello, the restraining order was relaxed to allow for further negotiations, “only for MTN to offer settlement of N250, 000, the cheque of which was presented last Tuesday, but was rejected outright.”

He said: “MTN did not take any steps to redeem its tax obligations despite court orders, and has failed to make payment.

“The governor heeded the intervention of the National Communications Commission (NCC) when they came, and ordered the opening of the sealed MTN sites to allow for negotiations.

“Since then, MTN has engaged in various means to subvert the order of the court. We were surprised to see the query of the NCC to question the restraining order of the high court.

“When MTN sought to respond in respect of this liability of N120 million, it decided to insult the state government by offering N250,000 as full and final settlement as its tax obligation.

“We received the cheque yesterday and we consider that as a serious insult on the people and government of Kogi State. It was a clear statement on the part of MTN that they have resolved not to be law-abiding member of the state.

“They have demonstrated that they have the capacity to influence other authorities and agencies of government to prevail on the state government not to carry out its duties properly under the law.”

He stated that because the state government had condoned this for a very long time in the spirit of providing conducive environment for businesses to thrive, MTN provider service is taking them for granted.

Isah stated that “we want to say clearly on behalf of the government that since MTN has legal department, it should know what to do if it is dissatisfied with the action of KSIRS. The era of using other authorities of the government to muzzle the state government and its people and evade statutory responsibilities is over.

“This informed our decision to continue our restraining order, and we will be there on ground to enforce it.”