This British Airways guys actually think they are still our colonial masters hence they can treat our complaints with levity.
Imagine this o!, The Director-General, Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA), Dr Harold Demuren, had on the directive of the Federal Government called with British Airways to explain why it maltreated Nigerian passengers on its flight 0075, that left London to Lagos on March 27.
Guess what? BA sent its junior officials to the meeting instead and peeved by the attitude, Demuren terminated the meeting and directed the airline to come at a later date with its top officers as representatives, remarking that the airline should not treat an issue, which the Federal Government is interested in with such levity. (I applaud this action with all my heart).
Meanwhile, Nigeria's Foreign Affairs Minister, Chief Ojo Madueke and the British High Commissioner to Nigeria, Mr. Robert Dewar Have held talks over the British Airways incident.
Madueke met with Dewar in his office in Abuja yesterday where he reiterated that President Yar’Adua’s posture on Citizen Diplomacy would not tolerate the inhuman treatment of any Nigerian for any reason, even when there are allegations of criminal activities.
He warned that the bilateral relationship which the two nations have enjoyed over the years has ensured the temperate reactions to the matter, but to maintain it, Nigerians must be treated with dignity within and outside the shores of the country.
He appreciated the British government’s interest in the matter while urging Nigerians abroad to always comply with the laws of their countries of residence.
Dewar has however gave the assurance that he had taken a special interest in the matter and would dig to find more information.
Also commenting on the issue, Minister of State for Air Transportation, Mr Felix Hyat, told newsmen when he visited Lagos on Wednesday, that government was miffed by the report and said it would give it full priority after the investigation by NCAA.
Hyat condemned the incident, and said maltreatment of Nigerian passengers by foreign airlines must stop, noting that government must ensure that similar thing never happen again.
It would be recalled that early last year, former Minister of State, Air Transport, Chief Femi Fani-Kayode, had also condemned BA’s treatment of its Nigerian passengers.
Just to refresh our memory, on March 27, 2008 about 137 Nigerian passengers on board British Airways flight 0075 from London to Lagos, witnessed the gory treatment of a Nigerian deportee who was handcuffed and forced into the flight.
The way he was manhandled made the deportee to shout for help, which prompted a Nigerian passenger, Ayodeji Omotade, to call the British immigration officials manhandling the deportee to exercise restraint.
Angered by this, the immigrations officials took the deportee and the sympathiser out of the plane, arrested the later and detained him, while the deportee was latervreturned to the flight.
Outraged by the incident, Nigerians who either witnessed or read the report in the British tabloid, Daily Mirror, wrote a protest letter, signed by over 1000 Nigerians, to the President, the Senate President and the Speaker of the House of Representatives, demanding a front page apology in a Nigerian national daily newspaper to all passengers on-board flight BA0075, a written apology and appropriate compensation to Mr Ayo Omotade, lifting of the life ban imposed on him by the airline, and all criminal charges against him dropped forthwith.
But in a swift reaction, the British Airways in a statement, however, stated that it was right, and quoted the UK Immigration Act 1971, to back the action.