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Tuesday, November 20

HABA!!! 10 States, Abuja may experience Telecom blackout

Ten states and parts of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) may soon face telecommunications services blackout following tax disputes between Kogi government and mobile network operators, the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports.

Gbenga Adebayo, chairman of Association of Licensed Telecommunication Operators who made this known, said 150 telecoms station have been shutdown

The ALTON chief also added that as a result of the shutdown, agencies like NNPC, Central Bank of Nigeria would be be also affected

The report had it that Gbenga Adebayo, chairman of Association of Licensed Telecommunication Operators (ALTON), made this known on Monday, November 19, in Lagos when he was briefing newsmen on issues affecting the nation's telecommunication industry.

He said: "The operators, comprising MTN, Globacom, Airtel, 9Mobile and Ntel, said that 150 base stations have been shut by the state's revenue agency, warning that if nothing is done, the effect would lead to blackout in nine other neighbouring states to Kogi and parts of Abuja.

"The states to be affected include, Nasarawa, Benue, Enugu, Anambra, Edo, Ondo, Ekiti, Kwara and Niger.

He added: "As result of these actions by Kogi state government, our members are unable to refuel power generators in these sites, a situation which has led to outage of over 150 sites including hub sites across parts of Kogi state.

"This will definitely affect 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.

"ALTON is worried that the action by Kogi will jeopardize communication services provided by us to security agencies such as the Nigeria Police Force, the Armed Forces in addition and to other emergency and social services in Kogi and other neighboring states.

"The outage currently being experienced is already affecting the ability of our members to provide uninterrupted service delivery to commercial banks, Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) and other critical agencies of government in the aforementioned locations."

Adebayo said that telecommunications sites were Critical National Infrastructure (CNI) which should be safeguarded against any form of disruption.

He said that the action followed an ex-parte court order obtained by the Kogi state Internal Revenue Service (KIRS) over unsubstantiated allegations that the telecom operators were in default of tax payments to the state government.

According to him, ALTON members had 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.

He said that state governments were encouraged to explore other means of resolving tax related disputes rather than sealing telecommunications sites.

Adebayo noted that operators had made several overtures to Kogi state Internal Revenue Service (KIRS) in the past months in a bid to resolve the disputed issues amicably but the agency had remained adamant.

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