Shut Benin Airport: Oshiomhole meets Jonathan in Abuja

PRESIDENT Goodluck Jonathan, on Thursday, met with the Edo State governor, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, over the shutting down of Benin Airport by the Edo State Board of Internal Revenue.
Emerging from the meeting, Oshiomhole told State House correspondents in Abuja that he had explained the incident to the president, adding that the matter had now been fully resolved.
According to him, “I just flew from Benin. I landed here and it is a proof that the airport is working. Actually, it was one of those unfortunate incidents and I have briefed the president.”
The governor explained the circumstances surrounding the closure of the airport, stressing that it was not the intention of the state government, which was only interested in getting remitances from the staff of the Federal Aviation Authority of Nigeria (FAAN).
“We only tried to enforce the tax law. I know it’s a federal law. It is not tenement rate contrary to what the General Manager of Federal Airport Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) said.
“It is about Pay As You Earn. Those who work for FAAN and those who work for NAMA who live in Edo State under the law, their taxes are deducted from source by the authorities and they are obliged in law to remit such monies within 30 days.
“But the money in question was deducted as far back 2010/2011 and we are now in 2013. We made all the revenue board to get FAAN management to remit the money and they refused.
“The only lawful thing that we had to do in a democracy was to approach the court and show the relevant section of the law which obliges FAAN and NAMA to remit Pay As You Earn and point out the fact that when you don’t do that, it is criminal,” he said.
Oshiomhole, who observed that failure to pay tax in other countries attract prison terms, blamed FAAN for the closure of the airport and the inconvenience suffered by passenger.
“The revenue board, having obtained the court order, went to serve it on the FAAN manager office, which is about 400 metres away from the airport, but the manager felt that the only way he can draw public attention, recognising the essential nature of the airport, is to shut it down.
“So, he, by himself, decided to lock all the gates to the airport to make it inaccessible and the plane that landed, he decided to prevent the plane from boarding passengers. He compelled the plane to fly back to Lagos empty, all in a bid to draw public attention in what appears to be inconveniences to him. He now extended it and that led to the drama that you saw,” he said.

The governor pointed out that both the federal and state governments were not antagonistic but complementary, saying “for me, this thing about federal and state, there is one common denominator and that is the welfare and well-being of Edo people.”
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