The Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) has notified its debtors, including airlines, concessionaires and other service providers, at all Nigerian airports, that the Authority will soon publish a list of such debtors in major Nigerian newspapers as a prelude to other measures designed to help the Authority recover all its outstanding debts. FAAN is being owed a hefty amount by the above mentioned and has been trying for years to recover this debts which some of these alleged debtors claim not to owe the airport authority. In fact, as at last count FAAN had asked one of its alleged debtors Bi-Courtney Aviation Services Limited (BASL) to pay the sum of N1, 968,634,455.95.00 as debt incurred in the services it rendered to the domestic terminal of the Murtala Muhammed International Airport, Lagos. General Manager, Corporate Communication of FAAN, Mr. Yakubu Dati way back then in 2013 said that this figure (N1.9B) represents the total amount owed FAAN for services rendered the company as spelt out in the concession agreement since September 8, 2007 when it began operating the terminal, alleging that Bi-Courtney has rebuffed every attempt made by FAAN to recover this huge debt, including debt reconciliation meetings between officials of the two organisations. Although we cannot say if this figure has changed since then as not much was heard after a series of claim and counter claims, Dati broke down the debts to include Aviation Security, N45,604,085.74; Fire/Safety Cost, N36,649,223.96; Marshalling N2,125,065.54; Electricity Cost, N252,038,510.006; Maintenance Band, N200,000,000.00; 5% Concession Fees, N726,900,069.00; REUT (Hotel), N97,200,000.00; SRC (Hotel), N9,720,000.00; Reut (Conference Hall), N73,860,219.00; SRC (Conference Hall), N7,386,021.00, totaling N1,968,634,455.95. Dati who spoke on the debt said, “It is important to state that since Bi-Courtney started operating the BOT terminal in September 8, 2007, it has refused to make its audited account available to the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria, in line with the terms of agreement for that concession, despite several reminder letters”. However BASL claimed that FAAN lied about the debts but instead that FAAN owed the company N132billion and that FAAN was trying too hard to misinform the public because the courts have pronounced this. A statement signed by Steve Omolale-Ajulo read in part, ”This is a figment of FAAN’s imagination and it is consistent with its desire to misinform the public.” “For the avoidance of doubt, we are not in any way indebted to FAAN. On the contrary, FAAN is indebted to us. The Federal Government and its agencies, including FAAN, owe BASL over N132 billion in judgement debt. Our position has been confirmed by the Arbitral proceedings and also court judgements.” “FAAN appealed against the court judgement and the appeal was dismissed. There is no court judgement or order against us. All the judgements and orders are against FAAN that solidly believes that it is above the law.” “FAAN’s actions are only comparable, in its depravity and falsehood to Nazi’s propaganda machine during the Second World War” “To put a lie to FAAN’s propaganda, we quote from the judgement of the Federal High Court in Bi-Courtney vs. Attorney-General of the Federation, delivered on July 3, 2012, where the court stated as follows: “In the case before the court, we have seen gross, deliberate, calculated, heinous abuse of the court of law typified by the Federal Government of Nigeria, aided by the President, and assisted by the Minister charged with responsibility for aviation matters.”
This is one of the numerous cases of debts FAAN is talking about and it is still unclear whether these debts are been recovered or if the issue has been resolved or whether the entire nation is still in for a roller coaster ride but one thing is certain, the nation is waiting to see how this debt recovery pans out for the airport authority.
FAAN in the statement sent to our correspond on this recent debt recovery drive makes it clear that: “All affected customers of the Authority are hereby advised to approach the Authority’s Debt Recovery Department at its headquarters or Airport Managers across the country with relevant documents for reconciliation of accounts with the Authority.” “The Authority is constrained to take this measure because the level of indebtedness to the Authority may soon begin to take a toll on its services which should not be allowed to happen, in the overall interest of safety and security at airports. The Authority has also observed, rather sadly, that most of its customers deliberately refuse to pay their charges/fees long after FAAN has rendered them statutory services.”