The Association of Licensed Telecommunications Operators of Nigeria on Monday disclosed that there would be total communications blackout in Kogi State and parts of Abuja, Nasarawa, Benue, Enugu, Anambra, Edo, Ondo, Ekiti, Kwara, Niger States.
The blackout is coming as result of the fact that about 150 telecommunications base stations will be shut down over unmet tax demands.
The Chairman, ALTON, Gbenga Adebayo, while addressing journalists in Lagos, alleged that an attempt by the Kogi State Government to increase its internally generated revenue had led to the sealing of hub sites in Kogi, which had multiple connections with other base stations in neighbouring states.
Adebayo said, “As a result of the action 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, there is likely impact on nine states surrounding Kogi State namely: Nasarawa, Benue, Enugu, Anambra, Edo, Ondo, Ekiti, Kwara, and Niger States. These are states sharing borders with Kogi State; Abuja, the FCT is also inclusive.”
According to him, the state government requested from the telecom companies the payment of about 36 statutory and non-statutory taxes and levies through its Ministry of Environment and Physical Planning, Ministry of Environment and Mineral Resources, Kogi State Environmental Protection Board, and championed by the Kogi State Internal Revenue Service.
The ALTON chairman explained that members of the association had settled all statutory levies and taxes due to the Kogi State Government and had taken necessary steps to comply with local laws that govern business activities within the state.
Adebayo expressed concern over the action by KIRS, saying it would jeopardise communication services provided to security agencies such as the Nigeria Police Force, the Armed Forces and to other emergency and social services in Kogi and other neighbouring states.
“This will include affecting communication links to bank automatic teller machines across those states,” he added.
He added, “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, the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation and other critical agencies of government in the aforementioned locations.
“It is pertinent to note that the office of the National Security Adviser to Mr President had in the past communicated to the 36 state governments on the fact that telecommunications sites are critical national infrastructure. They are critical socio-economic and security infrastructure. The agency had strongly advised against sealing them as such actions would have negative implications on national security.
“State governments were encouraged to explore other means of resolving tax-related disputes rather than sealing telecommunications sites. It is therefore worrisome that the KIRS continues to ignore such advice.”