Tuesday, April 29, 2008

BA follow-up

The Nigerian Bar Association takes action against BA, via Assizes Law Firm, Lagos. Here is the text of the suit:

IN THE FEDERAL HIGH COURT
IN THE LAGOS JUDICIAL DIVISION
HOLDEN AT LAGOS

Suit No

IN THE MATTER OF APPLICATION BY:
1. AYO OMOTADE
2. OLISA AGBAKOBA SAN
3. NIGERIAN BAR ASSOCIATION

FOR LEAVE TO ENFORCE THEIR FUNDAMENTAL RIGHTS AND IN THE MATTER OF THE FUNDAMENTAL RIGHTS (ENFORCEMENT PROCEDURE) RULES 1979 MADE BY THE CHIEF JUSTICE OF NIGERIA PURSUANT TO SECTION 42 (3) OF THE CONSTITUTION OF THE FEDERAL REPUBLIC OF NIGERIA 1979

BETWEEN:
1. AYO OMOTADE
2. OLISA AGBAKOBA SAN
3. NIGERIAN BAR ASSOCIATION Applicants

AND:

BRITISH AIRWAYS Respondent

VERIFYING AFFIDAVIT

I, Isaiah Irabor, male, Christian, Nigerian citizen, legal practitioner of 15 Ogundana Street, off Allen Avenue, Ikeja Lagos, do hereby make oath and say as follows:

1. I am a legal practitioner in the Law Firm of ASSIZES@LAW.COM (Assizes) of 15 Ogundana Street, off Allen Avenue, Ikeja Lagos, counsel to the Applicants, and by reason of my schedule of responsibilities at Assizes, I am conversant with the facts deposed to in this affidavit.

2. The 1st Applicant related the following facts, which I verily believe:

a. The 1st Applicant is a Nigerian citizen and an Information Technology (IT) Consultant based in Chatham, Kent, UK.
b. On 27/3/2008, 137 passengers including the 1st Applicant boarded the Respondent’s BA075 from London, UK, to Lagos, Nigeria.
c. Upon boarding, the 1st Applicant went straight to his assigned seat 53C.
d. The 1st Applicant later noticed that a male Nigerian was being deported to Nigeria on the same flight.
e. On getting to his seat, the 1st Applicant heard noises from an individual being forcibly restrained but who was not visible because some police officers and some plain clothes people held him down.
f. The noise continued for more than 20 minutes and the 1st Applicant was concerned because the individual was screaming in agony and shouting in pidgin English “I go die-o!”
g. The 1st Applicant pleaded with the officers not to kill him and his exact words were “please don’t kill him”.
h. The Respondent’s staff said that the officers were doing their jobs and that nothing was going to happen.
i. The 1st Applicant observed that the said deportee was handcuffed, yet was being further restrained and manhandled violently.
j. The 1st Applicant felt concerned about the wellbeing, life and limb of the deportee, who continued wailing in pain.
k. The 1st Applicant gently approached the officers tormenting the deportee, and asked them not to kill him.
l. The noise from the restrained individual became louder and other passengers started getting concerned and were complaining especially about their safety in the circumstances.
m. Eventually, a member of the cabin crew announced that the restrained passenger was going to be removed and the passenger was removed from the plane, and the other passengers all thought that was the end of the situation.
n. 5 minutes later, 2 members of the cabin crew arrived with about 4 police officers and told the 1st Applicant to get off the plane.
o. The 1st Applicant asked what the matter was and they said that he was not going to travel with the airline because the cabin crew believed he had been disruptive by questioning the noise being caused by the deportee that was removed.
p. The 1st Applicant pleaded with the officers that he was going for his brother’s wedding and had all of his brother’s items with him.
q. The 1st Applicant was unceremoniously dragged out of the plane as if he was resisting arrest.
r. As, along with the officers tormenting him, the 1st Applicant got to the corridor that linked the plane with the terminal building, he was slammed against the wall, made to sit on the floor, and handcuffed.
s. The 1st Applicant was still pleading with the officers, telling them that they had completely misunderstood him and that he was only complaining about the situation regarding the disturbances caused by the deportee they were trying to restrain and subdue.
t. The 1st Applicant was on the floor for about 20 to 25 minutes.
u. Another passenger was brought to the corridor as well and he was also pleading with the officers.
v. The 1st Applicant was later put in the back of a police van at about 1:50pm and was locked up there for about 1 hour or more, still handcuffed.
w. The 1st Applicant was formally arrested approximately 2:30pm and his rights were read to him.
x. Before the arrest in the van, the 1st Applicant managed to reach for his pocket and brought out his mobile phone.
y. The 1st Applicant made some phone calls to his wife, sister and a friend while the low battery sign was on because the 1st Applicant was all alone and still handcuffed.
z. The 1st Applicant was later driven to the police station where he was formally checked in.
aa. The 1st Applicant was in police custody for almost 8 hours and later released on bail after the interview with the duty solicitor and the detectives.
bb. The 1st Applicant had on him:-
i. £473.00,
ii. £90.00 sent to his mother in-law from his sister in-law, and
iii. £1,050.00 given to the 1st Applicant by his cousin who is a doctor for the upkeep of his parents in Nigeria.
cc. All the money together was £1,613.00.
dd. The officers told the 1st Applicant that he would appear in a magistrate court to prove the money was not meant for crime or proceeds of crime.
ee. The officers told the 1st Applicant that they would like to see traceability and that the 1st Applicant needed to produce his payslips
and bank account detailing his payments and withdrawals as well as his cousin’s payments and withdrawals.
ff. The 1st Applicant was released but without the money, which was withheld by the officers.
gg. The 1st Applicant made his way to terminal 4 and arrived there at about 12:30 a.m. but the Respondent’s kiosks were closed.
hh. The 1st Applicant was directed to the staff room where he told the staff there that he wanted to rebook his trip to Lagos, Nigeria.
ii. A lady told the 1st Applicant to give her his ticket, which he did, and she stated that the Respondent had banned the 1st Applicant from travelling with them indefinitely and that only the managers could use their discretion because the 1st Applicant was a ‘disruptive passenger’.
jj. The 1st Applicant requested for his 2 piece-luggage and the lady told him that the section would be opened later about 5:30 a.m. and that the 1st Applicant would then be escorted in to collect them.
kk. The 1st Applicant slept on the chair and waited till about 5:30 a.m. and attempted to rebook his ticket but was told that the Respondent refused to take him.
ll. The 1st Applicant decided to go and pick up his items and was told that his luggage was missing.
mm. The 1st Applicant was handed a form with reference number LONBA90924 to complain about his luggage.
nn. At this point, the 1st Applicant became totally stranded because he could not leave without his luggage as it contained his brother’s wedding suit, shirts and accessories.
oo. The 1st Applicant was on the phone with his wife and she wanted to book an alternative flight that would depart at 10:15 a.m. so that the 1st Applicant could attend his brother’s wedding. This was not possible because the Respondent refused to disclose where his luggage was and had not removed his luggage from the flight when they called the police to arrest him.
pp. On Monday 31/3/2008, the 1st Applicant appeared at the magistrate court but was told that a decision had been made about the £1,613.00 that had been seized from him: the police had been granted a further 90 days to hold on to the money pending their investigation. The 1st Applicant was given the relevant officer’s details.
qq. The officer requested 12 months’ bank statements and 6 months’ payslips to prove that the £473.00 belonging to the 1st Applicant did not represent proceeds of crime.
rr. The officer also requested that the £1,050.00 given to the 1st Applicant by his cousin for the cousin’s parents should also be traced to his cousin’s 12 months’ bank statements and 6 months’ payslips.
ss. One DC Webster promised to write the 1st Applicant formally detailing these requests.
tt. Still on Monday 31/3/2008, 4 days after the 1st Applicant was taken off the plane, he made extra efforts to find out the whereabouts of his 2-piece luggage (LONBA90924), since it had not been sent to his address as promised, by calling the lost baggage section at 1:44 p.m. and spoke to a certain Neil.
uu. When the 1st Applicant spoke to Neil, the latter claimed it was difficult for them to trace his bags and that there was a strong possibility that they might be in Lagos. Neil suggested that the 1st Applicant should call back in 24 hours.
vv. Eventually, 1 week and 1 day later, the 1st Applicant’s bags were brought to him at home. One was badly damaged and the other was intact.
ww. The Respondent maliciously and mischievously made sure the 1st Applicant missed his brother’s wedding. After all, if they were kicking the 1st Applicant off their flight, they would have simultaneously removed his bags from the flight. The Respondent’s officers were all there when the police officers made the 1st Applicant to sit on the floor and heard the 1st Applicant pleading to be allowed to travel for his brother's wedding. If his luggage had been let off the Respondent’s plane, the 1st Applicant could have taken either KLM or Virgin Nigeria the following Friday morning.
xx. 135 passengers were asked to leave the flight because they expressed displeasure regarding the disturbances caused by the deportee and the officers trying to restrain him.
yy. The Respondent maliciously and mischievously refused to endorse the 1st Applicant’s ticket to enable him fly with another airline.

3. The 2nd Applicant is a veteran of human rights law and activism, as well as a public interest litigator. The 2nd Applicant is anxious to advance, defend and protect the rights of Nigerians all over the world. The 2nd Applicant is also the President of the 3rd Applicant.

4. The 3rd Applicant is the umbrella association of Nigerian lawyers and a pressure group whose constituency includes all Nigerians within and outside the country.

5. The 2nd Applicant informed me and I verily believe him that in most jurisdictions similar to Nigeria, human rights activists, defenders and lawyers are increasingly being encouraged to launch public interest litigation geared towards the advancement of human rights.

6. The 2nd Applicant also informed me and I equally believe him that increasingly, international human rights norms are being applied in municipal courts without local legislation, at times as customary international law.

7. Unless the reliefs herein sought are granted by this Honourable Court, the Respondent will continue and repeat their course of conduct complained of, against Nigerian passengers on its flights, thus occasioning grave infractions of the Applicants’ municipal and international rights, and causing them irreparable damage, grievous harm and incalculable loss.

8. In light of the foregoing it would be in the interest of justice to grant this application.

9. I depose to this affidavit in good faith, believing the same to be true and in accordance with the Oaths Act.

DEPONENT
SWORN TO AT THE
FEDERAL HIGH COURT REGISTRY
IKOYI LAGOS
THIS …… DAY OF APRIL 2008

BEFORE ME



COMMISSIONER FOR OATHS

18 comments:

Anonymous,  7:43 pm  

I am Nigerian and I find it terribly confusing that Nigerians suffer 'racial' discrimination at the hands of fellow Nigerians on Nigerian soil in every aspect of their lives and stay silent yet we choose to attack BA.

Imagine the following real-life scenarios:

1. A caucasian happily joins the end of a Virgin Nigeria check in queue at Murtala Muhammad Airport, guess what? Some airline or airport official moves him/her to the front of the queue!

2. A Nigerian and a caucasian tender for a contract or attend a job interview in Nigeria with equal qualifications. Who do you think gets it?

3. That on Virgin Nigeria, on a flight from Nigeria, the inability to purchase on-flight items in NAIRA!

4. And when it comes to customer service, who are the worst offenders; Bellview, Virgin Nigeria, Virgin Atlantic or British Airways?

I'm a believer that if you pay for a service then you deserve to receive the best service possible but I'm disgusted that in an industry where all parties are guilty that one airline is being singled out.

Anonymous,  11:49 pm  

@ ANON 7.23

That is the subject-matter of a different discussion!

RJ 2:07 am  

I find it odd that u had to first mention u are Nigerian, hmm...
Well I guess we have to start somewhere, so BA would be the scapegoat....the starting point. Sadly though, u seem to have missed the point...

Anonymous,  5:58 am  

I just stumbled across another story about airplane ejection of passengers protesting the mistreatment of an illegal immigrant being deported to the continent

"Serge Fosso: Why I was Kicked Off a Brussels Airlines Flight To Douala" - http://www.dibussi.com/

This is definitely becoming an epidemic and until Africans take a resolute stance on this issue, it will only get worse

Nijawife 8:28 am  

Yes,we get all kind in our country but thats not a reason for us to accept it from others.Its high time we start asserting ourself as nobody will do it for us but us.BA is so full of all that crab and must be resisted by all means.We are keeping them in business by patronising them and so,deserve to be treated with respect.

Saymama 11:12 am  

Wonderful!!

Free-flowing Florida 2:16 pm  

sorry, i ddnt read all that. i find law & law language very confusing so i don't ever bother to interprete. so, 4 illiterate ones like me, pls break it down. how does all that legal jardon translate in layman's language? wot does it all mean? daz all i really wot 2 know.

u r british, Jeremy. woz ur take on this? someone was wondering if a collective boycott of BA would stand. i doubt it, if u ask me.

omidanbellafricaine 4:36 pm  

Aren't you all too ready to jump on the let's have BA's head wagon. Do you know what the deportee might have put the policemen through? He probably made them chase him. I bet he was weeping wailing and screaming all the way to the plane. Have you ever seen a nigerian being deported it's as if they have no dignity and pride. Some woman was dragging her butt on the floor what nonsense. I am sorry even I would be grossly irritated and cranky.

And first anon is right imagine if that was Bellview and the Nigerian police had to handle that they would beat the guy to pulp and no one would do jack.I have seen policemen beat someone to death because of N20. Let Nigeria treat it's citizens right first before it starts dictating to other people how to treat Nigerians

Now who wants to bet that this legal action would turn into a disappointing mess in months?

Anonymous,  1:42 am  

nigerians certainly have to treat nigerians better, but omidanbellafricaine what does how the deportee may have behaved have to do with kicking off fellow passengers?

Anengiyefa 11:07 am  

A collective boycott of BA by the Nigerian travelling public will definitely bring BA to their senses. For me the real question is, are Nigerians capable of pulling off a boycott successfully? I doubt very much that we are, because it seems that we cannot even agree that BA has singled out Africans, and Nigerians in particular, for treatment that is degrading. @omidanbellafricaine, the British police is not the Nigerian police. The event that sparked this controversy occured on British soil, where British standards of treatment of detainees applies. The fact that the person being forcibly removed is a Nigerian was definiteely a factor that weighed in the minds of the immigration and police officers engaged in the removal.

It is not uncommon for deportees from all over the world to resist removal. Many are known to have refused to board the aircraft. Even if the Nigerian police are known for beating people, sometimes even killing people, so are many police forces in many countries all over the world. Shall we then say that because of the human rights abuses by the authorities in Myanmar of the country's citizens, Burmese nationals in the UK deserve to mistreated? I am in total agreement with Anon 5.58 AM. We need to be resolute, and firmly object to the discriminatory treatment that we receive from BA, and British officialdom generally. We should collectively stand and demand to be treated equally. It is what we are entitled to as human beings.

omolabake,  8:54 pm  

A lawsuit??? Hopefully some light will be shed towards this issue of point blank racism.

Afrobabe 10:30 am  

@ omidanbellafricaine: it doesn't really matter what has transpired between the deportee and the police...what matters is the ill treatment of a totally innocent party.

Are we to become so afraid that we cannot even utter words in public for fear of being the scape goats?

All he said was "dont kill him"..

You and I would have probably said more, All the foreign airlines/companies in Africa need to get their acts together and start behaving with a little sense at the fact that we make thier money!!

It has to start with we Africans, stop making them live like kings in our own country.How can you pull someone out of the crowd and take him to the front of the cue?

I traveled with BA to london once and Maryam Babangida and Daisy Danjuma were on the same flight. At heathrow they stayed on the hour long queue till it got to their turns, they were offered no special treatment why should we behave otherwise?

Anonymous,  2:39 pm  

please help me to understand something.

Why, in this country CHOCK FULL of injustice: murder, hunger, rape, incest, prejudice, and violence, do middle class nigerians get hold of this particular issue?

And its not the only instance of airport related uproar from Nigerians.

Some part of me thinks that the major reason the government made the efcc was because they were piqued at the treatment they were receiving in airports as a result of their country's image.

It seems as long as the elite have un-fettered air travel everything is fine in your cuontry, ie country's economy going to shit: fine; leaders running rampant criminal empires: fine; oil companies polluting another part of the country: fine; women being beaten in the home: fine; innocent people locked up for no reason: fine; BUT fuck with my air journey (on money which may or may not have been earned through questionable means): OUTRAGE.

To me the message is clear, your own leaders can pillage Nigeria as much as you will let them, but as soon as a white airsteward/immigration official says "boo!", you go into paroxysms of rage.

what a country!

Anengiyefa 7:09 pm  

@ anon 2.39pm what is your point? Britain is not a perfect country, and there are myriad societal problems there too. It cannot be right that because Nigeria is still in the process of developing and our society less sophisticated, that our citizens should be treated differently from others. Regardless of the state of affairs in Nigeria, there can no justification for the treatment that deportee and those passengers received on that aeroplane.

Anonymous,  10:40 am  

i think my point was clearly made and you missed it entirely.
Of all the things that people should be protesting about, why is this the issue they take up the cudgels for?
So 130 middle class nigerians don't get to fly today... erm so what?
ok, i'll grant you its bad, but is it really as bad as say, an innocent teenager mistakenly shot by police and kept in a cell for eight years to prevent him from telling anyone about the incident?
that really happened.

...and don't try and tell me that could happen in the UK, cos that is straight up bullshit.

Anengiyefa 7:29 pm  

As you too have missed my point entirely. It is almost certainly because those 130 middle class Nigeerians as you call them, were black, African and Nigerian in particular, that what happened happened. Citizens of Nigeria while abroad should not be treated differently from citizens of other countries, irrespective of the injustices that we suffer in our home country. As I have said, several countries are guilty of human rights abuses, and I have not heard it argued that citizens of all those countries should acept being mistreated in the UK, or in any other country for that matter, because of the human rights issues in their own countries. Nigeria is no different, and your argument cannot stand.

Anonymous,  12:39 pm  

I'm not saying they should shut up and take it, i'm asking why don't you apply some of the fire you're putting into this relatively unimportant issue to some of the more important ones that are happening here.
or do you just want to fly in peace?

domitilla,  9:04 pm  

I think the last anonymous is hilarious! But he/she makes a good point - after we show BA pepper what next?

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