Governor of Edo State, Adams Oshiomhole has said that the Benin Airport that was shut down on Tuesday was not shut by the Edo State Government as it does not have the power to do so.
The airport was shut on Tuesday as the Edo State Government and the Federal Airport Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) engaged in a tussle over tax debts.
At the centre of the tussle are debts allegedly owed the state government by FAAN and the Nigerian Airspace Management Agency (NAMA), totalling N39.7 million. FAAN was accused of owing N15 million while NAMA was alleged to owe N24.7 million.
While narrating Edo State’s role in the airport controversy, the governor denied that the state government shut down the airport; saying the state lacks such power under Nigerian law.
In an impromptu address at the Government House, Benin, Oshiomhole said, “just to put it on record, the Edo State government did not shut down the airport. It was done by the manager who wanted to use it as a shield against the tax of his workers that he has not paid. The logic of the rule of law is that everybody is under the law. Nobody is above the law.
“The airport manager assaulted the revenue board officials. He also assaulted a cameraman. I am obliged to pay my tax and I am liable if I don’t pay. The fact of being a governor does not preclude me from paying my tax,” the governor said.
Mr. Oshiomhole also accused the Nigeria Police Force of unfair treatment in the crisis.
Several flights that were scheduled to take off from the airport could not as passengers remained stranded outside.
The Airport Manager, Sunday Ayodele, could not be reached on the airport’s next line of action as he did not respond to calls on his phone.