The Association of Licensed Telecommunications Operator of Nigeria on Thursday sought the intervention of the Joint Tax Board on the burden of multiple taxation imposed on its members by the three tiers of government.

The association has its membership drawn from blue chip telecoms companies, which include Zain, MTN and Etisalat amongst others.

Speaking at an interactive session with the board in Abuja, the Chairman, ALTON, Mr. Gbenga Adebayo, urged the board to be concise on the type of taxes stipulated by law, which the companies should pay.

He said, 'ALTON, once again, brings to the attention of the JTB, persistent attempts by certain states and local government authorities to impose multiple and unjustifiable taxes and levies on our members in their respective jurisdictions.

'This development threatens the laudable efforts of our members to make further substantial investments on their respective networks and provide world class telecommunications services in Nigeria. ALTON respectfully seeks the intervention of JTB in addressing these incidences of multiple taxation.'

Adebayo noted that when the members refused to pay the levies, the affected states and local authorities resort to closure of their facilities and infrastructure.

This, according to him, has adversely impacted on the network availability, quality of service and finances of member companies.

The chairman alleged that the policemen and thugs, who complement the drive of the multiple tax imposers, made it difficult to resist them.

'Unfortunately, and contrary to all known norms, these local authorities utilise the services of the police and thugs to drive their demand; making it difficult and, most times, impossible to engage them meaningfully,' he said.

Adebayo cited an instance where one state demanded N200m as advert levies, and another local government was demanding N18.6m each year as operation levy, office location permit, development levy and ground rent from 2002 to 2009.

While responding, the Chairman, JTB, Mrs. Ifueko Omogui-Okauru, said that interactive session was to share the experiences of the operators and break into group to further look into the matter before the board could take a definite decision on the matter.

She, however, pointed out that she realised that there was ignorance of the law on taxation even as there was need for education on taxation.

She said, 'From what you have explained, there is the issue of certainty in rate, who is the collecting agent and public education. I am being educated in this meeting as this is an enlightening issue. I am educated because I didn't know this.

'Those people may also not know. Now, education is key. There is need to do some strategic thinking around what we want. Another issue is the law enforcement. How do we equip and enforce? How do we separate the blackmail perspective from certainty. You need information.'