Telecommunication operators in Minna, the Niger State capital, risk the closure of their base stations if, at the expiration of the 21 days ultimatum issued by the state government, they are unable to defray about N493.4 million outstanding debts in respect of their 2009 and 2010 land use fees.
The state commissioner for lands and housing, Nuhu Musa, told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Minna, that in spite of several reminders to that effect, most of the operators have refused to pay up the fee.
“The government has already issued the affected companies a 21 days ultimatum for them to pay up or face stiff sanctions,” the commissioner said. “If at the expiration of the ultimatum, they still do not pay up what they are owing, government would not hesitate to order the closure of their base stations throughout the state.
Each of the companies are expected to submit to the Niger State Geographic Information System an updated list of the existing telecom masts as well as the ones being planned within the state showing evidence of all payment to the government,” he said.
At the moment, he said the state government is computing the outstanding fees owed by all the operators for 2011, pointing out any GSM service provider that is yet to receive their updated bills should go to the Niger Urban Development Board, or the Niger State Geographic Information Systems for them.
Already, the commissioner said advance copies of the bills have been by the government to the corporate headquarters of the various telecom companies, in addition to the full listing of the contravention charges for those base stations built around the state without due approval from the appropriate authorities.
Besides, Mr. Musa said his ministry, in conjunction with the relevant authorities in the state, has issued the guidelines for telecom operators to check the haphazard erection of telecommunication masts and towers across the state.
He said the ministry conducted an audit of the telecommunication base stations, which showed that 464 mast towers were being used by the GSM operators across the state.