The Association of Licensed Telecommunications Operators of Nigeria (ALTON), has advised MTN to first pay the disputed N50 million taxes to resolve the current impasse between it and Kogi Government.
Mr Gbengba Adebayo, Chairman of ALTON, said on Tuesday that it was necessary for MTN to pay the Social Services Contribution Levy (SSCL) to the state revenue agency first and seek legal redress in court afterwards.
Adebayo advised both parties to consider the national interest and always explore dialogue or seek legal resolution of contentious matters.
He also said that the Nigerian Communications Commission had similarly advised MTN to pay the revised sum and later seek legal redress.
“Kogi State Internal Revenue Service (KGIRS) sealed MTN sites in the state capital and other locations on Jan. 22 over claims that MTN refused to pay the N120 million Social Services Contribution Levy due to the state in 2017 and 2018.
“The state government had further reviewed the total figure down to N50 million in the course of discussions with MTN.
“MTN on the other hand has repeatedly claimed that the levy was illegal, because it was fixed by the state government as the powers to determine such rates reside with the Minister of Finance,” he said.
The ALTON chairman urged both parties to remain law abiding and thread with caution in the interest of security and socio-political stability of the country.
“We will like to remind all stakeholders that telecommunications facilities play very important roles in security and economy, hence their classification as Critical National Infrastructure (CNI).
“As the general elections approach, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) will rely on telecommunications facilities of all GSM operators to transmit election results across the country for collation,” Adebayo said.
He said that the nation could not afford to have running disputes between telecommunications operators and state governments.
“ALTON is glad that MTN and other operators are up to date on all other undisputed taxes and levies due to state governments.
“We, therefore, advise our members to continue to remain law abiding as they have always been.
“We commend the Kogi Government for agreeing to hold further dialogue in a bid to resolve this issue,” Adebayo said in a statement.
He also urged the state governments across the country to work closely with the telecommunications operators and build strong partnerships for the mutual benefit of all stakeholders.