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Edo closes airport over tax evasion

30 July 2013, 16:33

Ikeja - The Edo State Government, through its Inland Revenue Services, has shut  the Benin Airport, over evasion of taxes by airport workers.

However, in a shift reaction, the spokesperson, Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN), Yakubu Dati, described the development as an "invasion".

Dati said this in a news release made available to aviation correspondents at the Murtala Muhammed International Airport, Ikeja.

"We learnt early this morning that some people belonging to the Edo State Inland Revenue Service shut the Benin Airport over what our staff described as non-payment of taxes.

"This is coming to us as a rude shock, because they could have explored all lines of dialogue, instead of just taking the laws into their hands.

 "To close Benin Airport is not good for the security and safety of the airport environment," he said.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that flight and commercial activities at the airport were grounded for several hours on Tuesday.

Dati explained that the laws setting up FAAN exempted it from paying taxes and tenement rates. 

"Despite this, the Edo State Inland Revenue Service went ahead to close the airport", he said

The spokes person said that airlines operating the route, including Aero and Arik, could not fly to the city either from Lagos or Abuja.

He said the Edo State Inland Revenue Service could have explored all avenues of communication to establish their message, instead of carrying out activities that could threaten the safety and security of the airport.

Dati said significant revenue has been lost by the airlines, airport authority and aviation agencies, which they could have realised from about 10 flights into and out of the airport.

The spokesperson urged the government not to politicise the matter, adding that this could have been resolved amicably without disrupting operations at the airport.

He said that it was not clear when the airport would be reopened, and urged passengers and other airport workers to exercise patience.

Dati assured the stakeholders that efforts were on to resolve the matter as soon as possible.

 - NAN


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