By Adebisi Onanuga,
A broadcaster who is blind and an Assistant Director of Programmes with Traffic Radio 96.1 F.M, Mr. Victor Oteri, has sent a pre-action notice to Green Africa Airline, Ikeja, Lagos, for allegedly subjecting him to poor aviation industry practices.
Oteri, plans to seek N22.5million as damages for “untold hardship and psychological depression” he was allegedly subjected to.
The aggrevied broadcaster is also demanding a public apology to be published in two national newspapers and a sum of N70,000 being refund of the flight ticket he paid with 10 per cent interest and N2.5 million being loss of revenue/income from the event he was paid to anchor in Ilorin, Kwara State.
The pre-action notice was written on his behalf by a group of human rights lawyers led by Mr. Debo Adeleke and addressed to the Chairman/CEO of Green Africa Airline.
The notice reads in part: “Please note that in event of your failure, refusal and neglect to accede to our client’s demands within 14 days of the receipt of this letter (postal rule applicable) our client will have no other option than to seek a legal redress in a court of competent jurisdiction,”
Oteri also gave the airline 14 days to accede to his demand failure of which, he would seek legal redress in a court of competent jurisdiction.
Mr. Adeleke, who narrated Oteri’s alleged ordeal in the notice, stated that sometime on March 4 and 5, 2022, Oteri had a scheduled professional engagement in Ilorin and purchased a flight ticket of Green Africa Airline from Lagos to Ilorin on March 4, 2022.
He was scheduled to travel on the 7am flight from Lagos so as to attend a scheduled programme at 9am, with a return flight by 15:15pm on Saturday March 6, 2022.
The round trip cost him N70,000 which he paid and the flight tickets were issued to him accordingly, with booking reference S4Q7US while his number was Q9 304 LOS ILR for going and Q9 305 ILR-LOS for the return trip.
The notice stated that for Oteri to catch up with the 7am scheduled flight, he got to the airport with the assistant of his driver at 6am and duly completed his boarding formalities in company of his driver, Mr. Alex Ahigbe, at the Green Africa Airline check-in-counter.
The letter stated that when Oteri was about to board the aircraft, he was allegedly embarrassed by one Obinna Igbokwe, described as the airline’s desk coordinator and who insisted that he would not be allowed to board the flight on the ground that it was the policy of the airline not to allow any passenger with physical disability to travel unaided.
“Our client did everything humanly possible to convince the airline operators that he has completed his boarding formalities and the airline is duty bound to call for necessary assistance in compliance with the best global practice in general and NCAA policy in particular.
“Besides, our client’s driver was able to convince one of the travelers on the same aircraft to give his boss a necessary helping hand to the aircraft.
”As if the above is not enough, one of the travelers equally travelling on the same aircraft volunteered to accompany our client on his trip since they were going to the same destination and to end the show of shame, dehumanising and discrimination by the airline against our client.
“Mr. Igbokwe remained adamant and prevented our client from boarding the aircraft.
“Consequently, our client was not only psychologically traumatised but failed to achieve the purpose of booking the Green Africa Airline for 7am to meet up with his schedule’’.
Adeleke contended that the airline’s policy was in contravention of Section 14(1) of Discrimination against persons with Disabilities (prohibition) Act 2019 and section 42 of Constitution of Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (As Amended).
“That your action is equally antithetical to Universal Convention on the Right of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD), in particular: Articles 4(3),5,9(1),19,26(1) and 33, also Articles 5(2) and 15(1) of the Protocol to African Charter on Human and Peoples right on the rights of persons with Disability in Africa.
“That our client was unable to attend the programme he was scheduled to attend in Ilorin which he had been paid for. Consequently, he was forced to refund the amount he was paid by the organiser of the programme and thereby suffered financial loss. In other words, the action of your airline caused our client loss of income.
Responding, Green Africa Airline, through its counsel, Banwo and Ighodalo in a letter dated April 8, 2022 said Oteri’s claims were being investigated.
Their response, reference MCILC/CGAA/NOAGAAFID/01/22 was titled ; “ Notice Of Criminal Action Against Green Africa Airline For Inhuman Discrimination Against Mr Victor Oteri And Pre-Action Notice In Accordance With Order 2 Of The High Of Lagos State (Civil Procedure) Rules 2019 And Practice direction No. 2 And Possible Ammicable Settlement Of The Matter By The Parties.”
It stated: “We act as solicitors to Green Africa Airways Limited (our “Client’), on whose instructions we write in respect of the above subject matter.
“We hereby acknowledge receipt of your letter dated March 16, 2022 (the “Your Letter’), pursuant to which you made certain allegations bordering on inhuman discrimination against Mr. Victor Oteri (your client’) by our Client.
“Kindly note that our Client is currently investigating the claims and allegations contained in Your Letter, Including issues arising therefrom; and we shall revert with a detailed response shortly.”