9mobile (formerly Emerging Markets Telecommunication Service) said the clampdown on the telecom structure by the Rivers Internal Revenue commenced on June 26, 2018.
Punch newspaper reports that, according to the company, the RIRS compelled it to make a payment of 30 per cent of the alleged sum or N32m, as a pre-condition for the re-opening of the Port Harcourt regional office.
In letters signed by the company’s acting Director, Regulatory and Government Affairs, Oluseyi Osunsedo, and acting Head, Public Policy and Corporate Affairs, Murtala Baloni, 9mobile, explained that it was not indebted to the Rivers State Government as it had no expatriate residing in the state on its payroll.
The telco said a major hub site within its premises had been affected, leading to huge financial loss to the company, reputational damage and impact on national security.
It described the clampdown as illegal as it was carried out without a court order and in contravention of the government’s directive that none of its agency should seal base transceiver sites, which are regarded as critical national infrastructure.
The company said:
“EMTS (9mobile) has also suffered severe reputation damage from the bold display of the sealing order on the EMTS premises, creating the perception that EMTS is a tax defaulter.
EMTS workers have suffered untold hardship due to this wanton act, as they have been unable to resume at their duty posts for over two weeks.
“EMTS has been severely prejudiced by the refusal of the RIRS to give EMTS an opportunity for a reconciliation meeting with a view to establishing and confirming the extent of EMTS’ tax liability, if any, to the government of Rivers State despite several requests for same.”
The Association of Licensed Telecommunications Operators of Nigeria, which intervened in the matter, called on the RIRS to grant 9mobile a reconciliatory meeting to resolve the issue.