Ondo family, telecommunications company at loggerheads over taxation, rent

By Luqmon Olabiyi

the The Aderinola family from Ipele, in Owo local government area, Ondo state, are at daggers drawn with a telecommunications company on its mast erected on the family land.

Former Daily Times editor Mr. Dapo Aderinola, spokesperson for the family, alleged that the company, MTN Nigeria, and its agents were playing a “sinister game” with his family over land rent. The family had given notice to a telecommunications company to vacate the land on which their mast was built 10 years ago, following a dispute over rents.

Aderinola said he was contacted by a representative of the leasing agent on October 27, 2020, seeking contact details for Mr. Olu Aderinola, his Ibadan-based brother, who signed the 2011 lease renewal contract. .

“What they did then was to avoid our lawyers in Lagos and send their lawyers to my brother in Ibadan to sign a document containing an offer exactly the same as the one paid by MTN in 2011,” he said. he declared.

The agent, he said, returned to the negotiating table with the family’s lawyers in Lagos over the lease renewal after that move failed. The family, through their lawyers, claimed that MTN was an intruder in an “illegal occupation” of the land of Aderinola camp in Ugbonla, Owo LGA, since April 1, 2021.

The rental agreement signed between MTN and the Aderinola family in 2011 stipulated that the renewal “will be for an initial period of 10 years from April 1, 2011 to March 31, 2021, with an option to renew for another period of years to be agreed by the two parts.

In a letter dated July 8, 2021, Mr. Bambo Adesanya, SAN, accused MTN and its leasing agency of “willful and deliberate refusal to pay the agreed rent while permanently occupying our client’s land since April 1 2021 ”.

“Take note that if by Monday July 12 the agreed rent is not paid, we will assume that you no longer intend to honor your contract,” Adesanya said. “In this case, our customers would take back possession of their land and expel any intruder on it,” he added.

On March 2, 2021, the leasing agency’s project coordinators reportedly sent a lease renewal form to Ayanlaja, Adesanya & Co, setting out the terms and conditions for the lease renewal of the land on which MTN built its station. basic (BTS), for 10 years from April 1, 2021.

On March 13, they reportedly responded to a letter proposing, among other things:

· Payment of the same rent that MTN paid in 2011, citing “current economic realities in the country and in the telecommunications industry”; and

· 10% withholding tax on the rent.

On March 17, Adesanya responded that MTN’s site on the Aderinola property was “judged to have, among your other sites, the highest transmission power of telecommunications signals to your coverage areas between Benin in the region. ‘State of Edo and Akure in Ondo State’ and that the situation had remained unchanged since.

Adesanya argued that the withholding issue did not arise because one of the two family members holding the power of attorney over the property since January 11, 2005, was a retired bank employee while the other did not reside in Nigeria and could, therefore, logically not be taxable locally.

“Indeed”, he said, “if the tax is withheld from the account of each of them, there would be no taxable persons to whom the withholding tax would be applied, just as there is no there would be no tax office to collect the tax. If, however, you insist on deducting the withholding tax, our clients would require receipts issued by the relevant tax authorities in respect of the deductions.

He underlined in another letter dated July 9, 2021, that the agent “did not see fit to send us the draft deed of lease before July 8, 2021”, even if his cabinet had requested it as soon as possible. April. 30, 2021.

Adesanya alleged that the agent was “taking time” by asking for a further 30 days before paying the rent.

“Your client is currently an intruder on our client’s land and has been since April 1, 2021. He has not paid rent for more than three months of occupation, ”he added.

Abiodun Akinjayeju addressed the Daily Sun on behalf of the leasing company’s project coordinators: “We have passed this stage. A new agreement has been sent to the Aderinola family through their lawyers.

“They said they weren’t going to take the old rate from the existing deal. They eventually agreed to a higher renewal amount, which the leasing company agreed to.

“A new deal was prepared and a bank draft was raised as payment. But the protocol arrangement is that they have to sign the rental agreement before payment.

“We made this agreement and their lawyers reviewed it. We took it to the leasing company and they changed it.

“We sent it back to their lawyers just today (Monday July 26, 2021). We expect them to sign now and get their money back.

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