Facilities belonging to the Bank of Agriculture (BoA), Forte Oil, Airtel, and MTN Nigeria were yesterday shut down by the Kogi State Internal Revenue Service as a result of accrued taxes to the tune of N470 million, which the companies owe.

The head of the Legal Services Enforcement unit of the Kogi State Internal Revenue Service, Barrister Jamil Isah, led his team on the shutdown operations.

He disclosed that Airtel and MTN Nigeria owe the state some N321 million and N140 million respectively. In the same vein, Forte Oil Plc owes the state N5 million while the Bank of Agriculture owes N4 million.

Airtel, which owes the highest amount, has long refused to pay the obligatory annual rent for its fibre cable which is laid across the state, Barrister Isah said.

He further stated that his team had to resort to a more drastic action after previous attempts to get the companies to meet their tax obligations failed.

“For quite some time, we have diligently approached the two telecom service providers – MTN and Airtel – to pay some of their tax liabilities to the state government but they refused to cooperate with us.

“We then proceeded to the state High Court of Justice and the court, having looked into the case, granted us an order authorising us to seal off their facilities until those obligations are discharged by the affected organisations and that was what we have done to ensure that they pay the tax.” – Isah

A small trouble for MTN

This issue is, perhaps, the least of MTN’s worries seeing as it has other more serious troubles to deal with.

Recall that it was just a few months ago when the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) accused MTN of collaborating with Diamond Bank, Stanbic IBTC Bank, Standard Chartered Bank and CitiBank to illegally repatriate the sum of $8.134 billion to South Africa. The telecoms company was also accused of owing the Federal Government about some $2 billion worth of back taxes.

Although MTN has denied these indictments, the issues remain unsettled. Its long-awaited Initial Public Offering on the Nigerian Stock Exchange also hangs in the balance for now.

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