By Martin Ekpeke
The Association of Licensed Telecommunication Operators of Nigeria (ALTON), is presently intervening in the sealing of Emerging Markets Telecommunications Services Limited office by the Rivers State Internal Revenue Service (RIRS).
Emerging Markets Telecommunications Services Limited, also known as 9mobile as a member of ALTON, had written to the association complaining of unlawful sealing of its Port Harcourt Regional Office on Tuesday, the 26th of June 2018 based on an alleged N107,958,536.96 tax liability arising from the Pay-As-You-Earn (PAYE) of expatriates erroneously believed by the RIRS to be on EMTS’ payroll.
But ALTON in a letter dated 11th of July 2018 to the Executive Chairman, Rivers State Internal Revenue Service, noted that EMTS did not have any expatriate(s) on its payroll who were residing in Rivers State within the assessment period, as PAYE obligations are to states in which the employees reside.
“EMTS is clearly not indebted to the Government of Rivers State for the alleged tax. EMTS had, at several meetings and by various correspondence explained and maintained that it is not indebted to the Government of Rivers State as alleged by the RIRS, as it has never had expatriate employees working or residing in the state, and provided relevant documents in support of its position,” ALTON stated in the letter.
The letter, which was copied to NCC, NSA, Minister of Finance, Minister of Trade & Industry and Secretary, Joint Task Board (JTB), also argued that the sealing of EMTS’ Premises is illegal, especially as it was carried out without a court order and without adherence to the due process of law. “The conduct of the RIRS in this regard, apart from being a clear contravention of the law, goes against the efforts of Government at improving Nigeria’s position on the global Ease of Doing Business index, to encourage foreign investment,” it added.
9mobile had in its letter complained that the sealing of the premises where a Critical Hub Site is situated has made it difficult for EMTS to maintain the site, thus the attendant security implications cannot be overstated.
It added that due to the sealing of EMTS’ Premises, EMTS has suffered incalculable financial loss as the sales outlet which is within the premises has remained closed, preventing the company from serving its esteemed customers.