A Federal High Court sitting in Taraba State has issued an exparte order for the reopening of base stations owned by the IHS, ATC and Globacom in the state.
The Presiding judge, S.D. Pam, directed the defendants – the Attorney General of Taraba State and Taraba State Environment Protection Agency – to comply with the order based on motions filed by the telecom operators, pending the court judgement.
The order read, “Upon this motion ex-parte dated the January 19, 2018 and filed 22nd day of January 2018, an order of interim injunction directing the first and second defendant to reopen site B2250 NTA Jalingo and any other site belonging to the applicant, pending the determination of the motion for the interlocutory injunction.”
The order also retrained the first and second defendants or any of their agents from sealing or interfering with the plaintiffs’ lawful occupation and operation in all their base station sites in Taraba State, pending the determination of the motion for interlocutory injunction.
But the Association of Licensed Telecommunications Operators of Nigeria, representing the operators, alleged that the state had remained adamant and refused to obey the court orders.
It called on stakeholders involved to obey court orders as the refusal posed dangers to the ease of doing business in the state.
Major base transceiver station sites of Global System for Mobile communication operators in Taraba State were shut three weeks ago over fresh demands for the payment of environmental protection levy of N285m by each telecom operator.
It was gathered that the clampdown on telecom operators by the state Ministry of Justice commenced last week Tuesday when the operators refused to comply with the demand for the payment.
It was learnt that security, banking and communication activities in the state had been difficult as a result of the shutdown of the telecom facilities.
Findings showed that the Taraba Environmental Protection Agency requested for the registration of Environmental Impact Assessment for every telecom site in the state, verification of the EIA report and annual environmental monitoring on the site.
After these, each operator is expected to pay the N285m levy to the state Ministry of Environment.
ALTON, in a letter written to the Taraba State Governor and copied to the Federal ministries of Justice and Finance, Nigerian Communications Commission, Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps, and other security agencies, stated that a court ruling had directed states to desist from imposing fees outside those listed in the Taxes and Levies (Approved list of Collection) Act of 1998.
The letter obtained by our correspondent and signed by the ALTON Chairman, Gbenga Adebayo, and the Executive Secretary, Kazeem ‘Ladepo, noted that the sealing of base stations was a criminal offence under the Criminal Justice (Miscellaneous) Provisions Act CAP C39 L.F.N. (2004).
According to them, the action by the officials of the state does not follow due process and is a threat to national security.
The letter read in part, “The incidence of closure of our members’ BTS sites and other telecommunications infrastructure in your domain on the excuse of non-payment of arbitrarily imposed taxes and levies will impact adversely on the quality of service, as the BTS sites will go down due to lack of access to effect repairs, maintenance and refueling of the generators on the sites.”
30 January, 2018