By Joseph Edegbo
Kogi State Internal Revenue Service (KGIRS) on Wednesday refuted allegations of illegal taxation on telecom giants operating in the state.
This came as the state government warned both GLOBACOM and AIRTEL to pay their taxes and desist from damaging media campaign against the state government.
Acting Executive Chairman, KGIRS, Alhaji Sule Salihu Enehe, while reacting to the allegation made against the organisation by Globacom, noted that KGIRS had tremendous respect for the rule of law and that his action against the two companies was based on court order, adding that the state “will not take any action that infringes on the rights of individuals and corporate organisations.”
He spoke while addressing journalists at the Revenue House, in Lokoja.
Enehe stated, “We maintain a cordial relationship with organisations to complement the efforts of government at making Kogi State the investment haven of Nigeria. KGIRS was in a tax default battle with three major telecom giants including MTN Nigeria Communication, a situation in which MTN Nigeria Communication responded to responsibility by immediately clearing their tax liabilities of N60 million but GLO and AIRTEL refused to clear their abilities
“It should be noted that KGIRS deals with Telecom companies individually and not with an Association of Telecom Providers. Also, the court issues highlighted in the petition was the case of business premises, whether the telecommunication mast can be regarded as Business Premises by virtue of Section 2 of Kogi State Business Premises Law 2017. The matter was decided by the Federal High Court Lokoja in favour of the Telecom Association against the Registrar of Business Premises, Kogi State, and four others of which the state filed a notice of appeal thereto and is now before the Court of Appeal, Abuja.”
He said several demand notices had been sent to the two defaulting telecom companies (Glo and Airtel) but that they refused to oblige, stressing that the said liabilities included Globacom Nigeria defaulting at N300 million unremitted tax liabilities, “both corporate and individual, and Social Service Contribution Levy from 2017 through 2021, Also Airtel Network Limited defaults at over N60 million both corporate and individual tax liabilities.”
“All these payments are to be paid by virtue of the law of the Kogi State House of Assembly duly passed, which allows KGIRS to collect the levies and fees on these premises. While MTN Nigeria Communications has come to settle their tax liabilities, we expect the remaining two – GLO, AIRTEL to do the same,” he added.
Meanwhile, the state government, in a statement issued by the Commissioner for Information and Communications, Kingsley Fanwo, has thrown its weight behind the Internal Revenue Service, stressing that the Telecommunications giant “cannot choose which law to obey nor take Kogi for a ride.”
Noting that the telecom giants had not been fair to Kogi State, Fanwo said, “The Kogi State Internal Revenue Service has our full backing in its efforts at ensuring both GLOBACOM and AIRTEL pay their taxes. As a government, we shall continue to provide the necessary services to the people and maintain a good relationship with corporate organisations.
“However, we will not accept a situation where a corporate organisation will refuse to pay taxes due to the state and instead of facing the reality, resort to damaging media campaign against the state government.”