By Dipo Olowookere
The Rivers State government has sealed the regional office of 9mobile in Port Harcourt, the state capital, over an alleged non-payment of Pay As You Earn (PAYE) taxes of expatriates on its payroll.
The office, according to information, was closed down by officials of the Rivers Internal Revenue Service (RIRS), who accused the telecom firm of owing about N108 million.
However, the management of 9mobile denied owing the state government such a huge amount, emphasising that that it has no expatriate residing in the state on its payroll.
9mobile faulted the state government for clamping down on its structure, pointing out that the action was a threat to national security. The company said further that the clampdown on its structure has also led to huge financial loss and reputational damage.
“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 firm said in a letters signed by its acting Director, Regulatory and Government Affairs, Oluseyi Osunsedo, and acting Head, Public Policy and Corporate Affairs, Murtala Baloni.
9mobile further said the clampdown was 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.
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