BENIN CITY—Managing Director of Federal Airport Authority of Nigeria, FAAN, Mr. George Uriesi, yesterday, apologised to the Edo State Government and air travellers over the incident that led to the closure of the Benin Airport on Tuesday.
Meanwhile, Chairman of Edo State Board of Internal Revenue, Chief Useni Elamah, who was detained by the police Tuesday over the sealing up of the premises of FAAN, Benin Airport, yesterday, described his detention as absurd, noting that federal agencies in the state were indebted to the state government to the tune of over N2.5billion.
Elamah, was detained but released at 9:30pm Tuesday, following the intervention of Governor Adams Oshiomhole, who demanded his release, describing his arrest as unjust.
Mr. Uriesi who led other management staff, which include Mr. Yakubu Dati, General Manager, Mr. Kolawole Adefomiwa, Deputy General Manager, Mr. Adeboye Festus, the Chief Security Officer and Mr. Ayodele Sunday, Airport Manager, Benin City, on a visit to Oshiomhole said: “We deeply regret the events of Tuesday and we will like to find out how we can avoid a situation like this in the future.
This is because it is neither in the interest of FAAN nor in the interest of Edo State Government for the Airport to be closed down, because there was a lot of hardship and serious economic consequences occasioned by the shutdown and there is need to settle this matter.
“I want to assure you (Governor Oshiomhole) that FAAN is a good corporate citizen, I am convinced that there was a misunderstanding and I want to get to the bottom of this misunderstanding, so that it does not happen again.
“If we have any obligations, we will meet them, and I hope that in the future, if there are issues of misunderstanding, we will be able to talk about them quickly without them leading to delays and inconveniences to the public. So, sir, we are here to reassure you of our respect and desire to be good corporate citizens and partner the state government to deliver services to the people of Edo State.”
Responding, Governor Oshiomhole noted that tax law was a federal law which the state government was only trying to implement.
He noted that the tax which FAAN defaulted on was the Pay As You Earn, PAYE, which even the President and governors pay.
Oshiomhole said that the state Board of Internal Revenue got a proper court order to seal-up FAAN Manager’s Office, noting that the FAAN manager on his own decided to seal up the Airport to gain public sympathy.
He insisted that anybody who works and lives in Edo State must pay tax in contribution to the development of the state.