MTN has said that its customers in Ondo State and its environs were likely to experience service disruption owing to the closure of its facilities in the state by the state government.
As mentioned by the company, some of the services that will be affected include not just voice and data services but also other services such as enterprise data service to third-party clients, voice traffic across other operators and international traffic. The disruption of enterprise data services according to the company will have a negative effect on ATMs and PoS of most banks.
MTN has warned that owing to their inability to perform routine maintenance on their systems as a result of the closure of their facilities by Ondo State government, their customers in the state will experience poor or total loss of network coverage. The closure of the company’s facilities according to them will also make it impossible for them to refuel the generators providing power to these facilities.
Service disruption is also expected to be felt in some parts of Edo and Niger States as well as the entire Ekiti State because a major facility which connects the North, South and East and which is used for both fibre and microwave is among the facilities that are closed down.
It should be recalled that the government of Ondo State closed the BTS and facilities of MTN the largest telecommunication in the country on 23rd December. The closure was ordered by a court over the issue of a tax claim of N458,585,783.12 which the company owes the Ondo State Board of Internal Revenue Service (OSBIRS) in PAYE which is an acronym for Pay As You Earn Levy, education endowment, business levy, development levy, endowment taxes.
Contrary to the claims of OSBIRS, Amina Oyagbola, an MTN Executive while talking about the issue claims that MTN has executed all its statutory responsibilities regarding PAYE, Development levy, withholding tax and others.
Oyagbola said MTN has carried out all the necessary assistance via meetings, engagement, document production (plus 3rd party contracts) meetings, direct engagement and others. The details of how these responsibilities were carried out were made available to the state’s Internal Revenue Board and its consultants. From every indication, it seems the board wanted to attribute a liability of third person to MTN using their own judgment and assessment. But MTN has insisted that third party providers are corporate legal entities.
Oyagbola mentioned that the government officials that visited their facilities in the state on 23rd December, 2015 also closed third party owned franchise stores to effect the 7th December ex parte court order.
According to Oyagbola, MTN was left with no other option than to take the matter to the Tax Appeal Tribunal and initiate other relevant processes
Oyagbola refused to make any comment on the matter because according to her the matter was already in court. But she mentioned that what was giving the company concern was the effect of the action of the government of Ondo State on their customers in the state and other states
She called on relevant authorities to help telecom companies to function and deliver quality services to customers.