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Benue Governor Alleges Plot to Cage Him with Ban of Flights Through Makurdi Airport


Benue State Governor, Samuel Orton, has alleged that the Federal Government was out to expose him to danger by closing the Makurdi Airforce Airport.
He said the ban of flight through the airport, which is a military base, was to expose him to banditry on the highways.
Chief Press Secretary to the Governor, Terver Akase, alleged that the Federal Government was planning to cage his principal with a flight ban.
Akase said this a day after Ortom alleged that herdsmen were plotting to kill him on the highway
The Governor’s spokesman alleged that the Federal Government had banned all private and chartered flights to and from Makurdi, Benue State capital, making it impossible for Ortom to fly if he intended to abandon the roads.
“The Governor has been getting information that there was a plan to ambush him along the Makurdi-Lafia road, disarm or kill his security men, and abduct him into the bush and finish him there.
“The Governor has such fears, and to confirm the fears is the Federal Government’s circular, directing the ban on all private flights, and all chartered flights to and from Makurdi. That is to make it impossible for him to take flight if he intends to abandon the roads.
“We suspect it is a target on him because it has never happened before. Private flights have never been banned in the Makurdi Airport before. It is a military airport but other people use it, private individuals use it.
“We are made to know that the ban is strictly on the Makurdi route, on Makurdi Airport that chartered flights and private flights shouldn’t land in Makurdi. We suspect it is a plan to cage him and prevent him from using air routes out of the state,’’ he said.
Akase asked Nigerians to mount pressure on the government of President Muhammadu Buhari to stop intimidating the Governor.
“He is a law abiding citizen of this country and he believes in conventional means of resolving issues. That’s why we’re calling on the Federal Government and other Nigerians of good will to prevail on the relevant authorities to stop the harassment of Governor Ortom.
“He has had enough of this harassment. He is a Governor of the people for goodness sake. He has a right to lead his people without harassment. We are asking Nigerians to prevail on those tormenting Governor Ortom to leave him alone,” he said.
The Governor alleged that the current administration singled him out for persecution because he dumped the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC, for Peoples Democratic Party ( PDP), an allegation the government has denied.
Meanwhile, the Nigerian Air Force Tactical Command, Makurdi, in its reaction, Sunday, said Makurdi Airport was not banned for both private and commercial flights.
Air Officer Commanding Tactical Command, Nigerian Air Force, Air Vice Marshal Oladayo Amao, said following the decision of the NAF headquarters to carry out repairs on some of its aircraft and landing facilities that needed retrofitting, the standard operating procedure for military repairs of such nature, a notice had to be issued to stop flight into the airport.
He said it involved issuing a ‘NOTAM’, which is the issuance of a notice to all commercial and private airline operators to the effect that the Makurdi Military Air Base would be closed for repairs of military facilities used in security operations on several fronts.
“This has been communicated to all appropriate authorities. There is no ban of private or commercial flights. It is just for a period of time. As soon as the facilities are back in shape, the military air base would be re-opened,” the AOC said.
Reacting, the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria, FAAN, said it had no powers to regulate the operations of air fields controlled by the military.
Managing Director of FAAN, Engr. Saleh Dunoma, who stated this in a telephone enquiry, said military aviation facilities were not within the control of FAAN.

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