THE ongoing battle between the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) and its concessionaire Bi Courtney Aviation Services Limited (BASL) took another turn yesterday when Minister of Aviation, Hadi Sirika said the terminal operator owed about N14bn in unremitted debts to FAAN in 13 years.
This was counteracted by BASL late last night claiming otherwise that it was owed N200Bn by FAAN for depriving it of its legitimate earnings over the past 14 years.
Sirika was speaking at the weekly ministerial press briefing organized by the presidential communication team in Abuja yesterday, Thursday when he alluded that efforts have been intensified by the ministry to recover to over N37 billion debts owed by airlines in the country
The Minister specifically cited Bi-Courtney Limited as chronic debtor, saying the company was owing about N13 billion and had never remitted a dime to government coffers for 13 years.
He explained that the debts were owed to aviation parastatals including Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN), Nigerian Airspace Management Agency (NAMA), and Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) among others.
“It is about N37 billion that they are owing, especially, Arik, the culprit. I know they’re owing us about, N14 billion. If you are owing government, you are owing FAAN; the Bi-Courtney is owing about N14 billion as at the last count.
“It has not paid a single dime since the time he started to run the terminal building, and we have not ceased giving him, electricity, water, fire cover, and so on and so forth.
“He has not paid a dime for 13 years. And if we go to shut his doors, media, of course, and Nigerian people will say we are killing businesses. But he is killing our services too, because we have to have that money to provide for that toilet that you’re looking (for)in Lagos airport.
“Most of these agencies are living by their Internally Generated Revenues (IGRs) and so we need the money but we will go after the money,’’ he added.
However, Bi-Courtney Aviation Services Limited (BASL), in a response by its Spokesman, Mikail Mumuni has denied owing the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) any amount at all.
In a statement on Thursday night, he said “ On the contrary, it is FAAN that owes Bi-Courtney over N200bn by depriving it of its legitimate earnings over the past 14 years.”
This, he said arose by FAAN opening and operating the General Aviation Terminal (GAT), thus competing with BASL with government money in the running of the Domestic Terminal in a flagrant breach of the concession agreement.
“BASL in line with the dispute resolution process contained in the agreement had an arbitration award in its favour. It also got the judgment of a High Court, six Court of Appeal judgement and a Supreme Court judgment, all in its favour and sustained the monetary award,” he said.
Mumuni stressed that the courts ruled that any debt that may be alleged against BASL by FAAN should be deducted from the credit judgment after due verification.
He added that “the N14 bn debt mentioned by the Minister is totally inconsistent with the demand by FAAN,the body which has been liaising with BASL. Their last demand was about N1bn which was promptly responded to by BASL stating categorically that there was no such debt.”
Mumuni said “We believe that Minister was not properly briefed by FAAN as we also pay our electricity bills as and when due. We equally provide elaborate security at the Terminal which has continued to attract commendation from stakeholders. ”
He said BASL is a law abiding company and will continue to obey the laws of the land while providing exceptional services at its facilities.