Thursday, March 01, 2007

ALTON v LSGV: ATCON lauds Nigeria judiciary

The Association of Telecommunications Companies of Nigeria (ATCON), has lauded the Nigerian judiciary over the last weekend court ruling concerning the Association of Licensed Telecommunications Operators of Nigeria (ALTON) and the Lagos State Government (LSGV) on the right of the state to regulation telecommunications.

ITRealms recalls that last year, ALTON took Lagos State government to court over efforts to tax telecom operators on infrastructure such as mast and towers among others.

However, the case was decided penultimate Friday at the Federal High Court Ikoyi-Lagos, by Justice Ibrahim Auta, in favour of ALTON.

Reacting to the courting ruling, President of ATCON, Dr. Emmanuel Ekuwem, highly-praised the nation’s judiciary for the judgement, even as he declared that it is a victory for the telecom consumers nationwide.

He stressed that no matter what happens, eventually, if the judgement was not favourable it is still the consumers that would bear it, as operators should have shift the cost to end users.

Dr. Ekuwem who also is the Chief Executive, Teledom Group International, also pointed out that one key merit about the ruling was the fact that no state in the federation would in the widest imagination dream of plans to regulate telecommunications in Nigeria.

According to him, if the Lagos State position was upheld, “other states would start to make their own laws to regulate telecommunications.”

He emphasised that if the law was on any other issue such as environmental, it be understandable, “But the sole objective of this one was purely for the revenue,” adding that for the request of the Lagos State to have seen the light of the day, after telco and specifically operators must have paid to the apex industry regulator, Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), would have resulted in double standard and doubled taxation because, “Lagos State has shares from the federations account.”

Dr. said that the Justice Auta’s ruling has allayed the fears of the stakeholders of possible laws being made similarly at the local government levels.

He foresee accelerated Information and Communications Technology (ICT) development in the country, because the postulation is that anytime there is a new tax it would have an effect on ICT roll out.

He urged that such as Lagos State request should be buried for once and for all.

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