Supporters and members of the campaign team of Atiku Abubakar, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) presidential candidate, have accused the authorities of the Yakubu Gowon Airport in Jos, Plateau State of deliberately preventing their aircraft from landing.
Atiku held his presidential campaign in Jos on Tuesday.
In a tweet on Tuesday evening, Paul Ibe, media adviser to Atiku Abubakar, PDP presidential candidate, claimed that the airport authorities in the state “shut down the Jos airport, keeping Atiku/Okowa campaign officials and journalists stranded”.
“ALERT: In flagrant disregard to the Peace Pact, Electoral Act & INEC guidelines SGs and FG continue to deny PDP of infrastructure for its campaign. The airport authority in Plateau State shut down the Jos Airport keeping @atiku/@IAOkowa campaign officials & journalists stranded,” the tweet reads.
Similarly, Michael Abimboye, who was part of the team stranded at the airport tweeted, “As soon as he left, the airport staff shut down the airport, control tower and the airport manager left, leaving our 2 aircrafts visibly roaming around Jos airspace but with no control tower to direct them to land.
“They have gone back to Abuja waiting for the control tower to permit them to land so that they can come back to pick us
“It’s 19.35 and we are still stuck at Jos airport in darkness.
“Meanwhile we have been locked in, at the airport with no light, no food and NO SECURITY.”
Also in a video, a member of the PDP presidential campaign team, who identified himself as Justice Abraham, is seen lamenting that an aircraft could not land to pick them up, because there was no communication from the control tower.
“They shut down the airport so that we would not fly. The airport manager switched off his phone. Why? Because we are PDP? If you people want to win the election, go and do what you’re supposed to do,” he said.
“We are doing our best to win the election. Why do you envy us? Open the airspace for us, let us go. Our plane couldn’t land. It had to be roaming about in the air. Nobody to communicate with. Must we do everything with politics in this country?”
However, commenting on Ibe’s tweet, Olusola John, who identified himself as a worker at the airport, said the airport closes at 5:30pm due to security reasons, adding that airlines ought to apply for a time extension two hours ahead if they must land after the closing hour.
“Hey guys. This is wrong information. I work at the airport. I just returned home. The airport closes at 5:30pm due to insecurity. This fact is found in the AIP. Now, when an extension is needed, the airline must apply 2hrs [before] the time. Till we closed, no application,” he wrote.
But Ibe responded, saying the airport was open as of 9pm on Monday when the campaign officials and journalists landed from Benue.
But Olusola responded, saying: “Yes. The request for an extension was upon the request of Max Air. I denied them access to filing their flight plan until they got approval for the extension. You only enjoyed their approval. Today, no airline requested an extension. That service is paid for separately.”
Faithful Hope-Ivbaze, acting general manager, corporate affairs, Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN), did not take calls or respond to text messages to comment on the development.
Meanwhile, at a few minutes to 9pm, Abimboye, said the aircraft had landed and they were now boarding the flight to Abuja.
“Update: Finally, the Jos Airport Airspace has been reopened with the Control Tower granting our planes permission to land. We are boarding and heading to Abuja,” he wrote.