MTN Faces Ejection Over Rent Default In Ondo State - News at its peak

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MTN Faces Ejection Over Rent Default In Ondo State

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A prominent family in Ondo State has given Mobile Telecommunications Nigeria Limited (MTN) a legal notice to vacate its leasehold on which its telecommunication equipment was built in Owo Local Government area of the state over alleged rent delinquency.

Ayanlaja, Adesanya & Co, acting on behalf of Aderinola family of Ipele, 
declared MTN as a trespasser who had been in “unlawful occupation” 
of a piece of land at Aderinola Camp, Ugbonla, Owo local government area of the state since April 1, 2021.

The tenancy agreement signed between MTN and the Aderinola family in 2011 stipulated that the renewal “shall be for an initial period of 10 years from 1st April, 2011 to 31st March, 2021 with an option to renew for another term of years to be agreed upon between both parties.

In a letter dated 8th July, 2021, Mr. Bambo Adesanya, SAN, of Ayanlaja, Adesanya & Co accused MTN, whose Leasing Agency, Green & Brown Fields Nigeria Limited, mandated by HIS Nigeria Limited to negotiate the lease renewal, of “willful and deliberate refusal to pay the agreed rent while being in continuous occupation of our client’s land since April 1, 2021”

“Take notice that if by Monday 12th of July, the agreed rent is not paid, 
we will assume that you do not intend to honour your contract any 
longer”, Adesanya said.

“In that event, our clients would repossess their land and eject any 
trespasser thereon”, he added.

Earlier on 2 March, 2021, Mr. Abiodun Akinjayeju and Mr. Adekunle Araoye, both project coordinators for Green & Brown Fields Nigeria Limited had sent a Lease Renewal Form to Ayanlaja, Adesanya & Co, setting out the terms and conditions for renewing the lease of the piece of land on which MTN built its Base Transreceiver Station (BTS), for 10 
years from April 1, 2021.

On March 13, 2021, Green & Brown Fields Nigeria Limited followed up 
with a letter proposing, among other things:

• The payment of the same rent MTN paid in 2011, citing the 
“current economic realities in the country and in the telecom 

• Withholding Tax of 10% from the rent.
On 17 March, 2021, Adesanya shot back, pointing that MTN’s site on 
the Aderinola property was “adjudged as having, among your other sites, the highest telecom signal transmission power to your coverage areas between Benin in Edo State and Akure in Ondo State” and that the situation had remained unchanged ever since.

Adesanya argued that the issue of withholding tax did not arise because one of the two members of the family holding the Power of Attorney on the property since 11th January 2005, is a retired bank employee while the other is not resident in Nigeria and could, therefore, not logically be taxable locally.

“In effect”, he said, “if tax is withheld on account of both of them, there would be no taxable persons to whom the withholding tax would be applied, just as there would be no tax office to receive the tax”.

“If, however, you insist on deducting withholding tax, our clients would 
insist on receipts issued by relevant tax authorities in respect of the 
deductions”, Adesanya said.

He pointed out in another letter dated 9th July, 2021, that Green & 
Brown Fields Nigeria Limited “did not deem fit to send the Draft Deed 
of Lease to us until 8th July, 2021” even though his chambers had 
requested for it as far back as 30th April, 2021.

Adesanya said Green & Brown Fields Nigeria Limited was “stalling for time” by requesting for a further period of 30 days before paying the rent.

“Your client as at now is a trespasser on our client’s land and has been so since 1st April, 2021. It has not paid rent for over three month’s occupation”, he added.

The spokesman for the family and former editor of the Daily Times, Mr. Dapo Aderinola said: “There is honour even among thieves; this seems to be in short supply with MTN and its leasing agent”.

He said Green & Brown Fields Nigeria Limited officials had plotted to “manipulate the Aderinola family in order to achieve a sinister end”.

According to him, Yinka, a female representative of Green & Brown 
Fields Nigeria Limited, got in touch with him in the United States on 27th October, 2020, seeking the contact details of Mr. Olu Aderinola, his Ibadan-based brother who signed the 2011 Lease Renewal Agreement.

“What they did next was to sidestep our lawyers in Lagos and sent one,
Liadi Adebiyi, to my brother in Ibadan to sign a document containing a ridiculous offer of exactly the same rent paid by MTN in 2011”, he said.

Aderinola alleged that the “Green & Brown Fields Nigeria Limited
representative “made damaging and insulting insinuations about the integrity of lawyers in a deliberate attempt to induce my brother to sign the atrocious document”.

He said Green & Brown Fields Nigeria Limited later returned to the
negotiating table with the family’s lawyers in Lagos on the Lease 
Renewal after “their dishonest maneuvering collapsed like a pack of cards”.

Aderinola alleged that MTN and its agents had illegally deducted and 
pocketed the so-called 10% withholding tax on the rent paid on the family’s property since 2005 before Adesanya “blew up the racket with superior argument” during the 2021 Lease Renewal negotiation.

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