The management of Egypt Air, which was accused of maltreatment and wrongful deportation of a Nigerian medical student, Joshua Kunle Abdul-Azeez, studying in Ukraine and tearing his Nigerian international passport has admitted making a mistake and offered to compensate the student.
This followed an intervention by the House of Representatives Committee on Diaspora.
Having received a complaint filed against Egypt Air, the committee, led by Hon. Abike Dabiri-Erewa yesterday met with representatives of the Airline on circumstances surrounding the alleged negligence, harassment and deportation of the complainant back to Nigeria aboard EgyptAir.
It will be recalled that Saturday Vanguard had exclusively reported how Mr Abdulazeez was detained two Saturdays ago, starved for four days and his passport torn to shreds.
According to Mrs. Abike Dabiri-Erewa (APC, Lagos), “the error of not ascertaining the final destination of the complainant from his ticket was that of Egypt Air.’’
‘’If you are going to London for instance, your final destination must be known before your visa is approved or before air ticket would be accepted by airline operators,’’ she said.
She added that ‘’ours is that, once a Nigerian is ill-treated anywhere in the world, we must make sure that justice is done’’.
Putting the issues in perspective, legal representative of Egypt Air, Robert Clarke (SAN), told the Committee that though the incident of maltreatment and harassment as reported did not occur while the complainant was still in the physical custody of Egypt Air, the issue of negligence arising from wrong routing of his destination in the ticket was a mistake his clients cannot deny.
He said, ‘’although, my clients made a mistake when his ticket was being routed which had to do with the exchange between Egypt Air and a Turkish airline, however, the boy partly caused the problem for himself when he entered a Turkish airline that was not going to Kiev. He tried to board a plane that was going to Moldova, that was when it was discovered that he did not have a visa to that destination’’.
‘’The truth is that, we made a mistake on his ticket; that much we are ready to admit and make compensation as appropriate. We wronged the boy. We were negligent and he has suffered tremendous damage for which we are ready to own up and address accordingly. I feel for the young man for having suffered on the account of our mistake of not routing his ticket to his final destination, which was Kiev’’, he said.
He also hinted that the matter has assumed a legal dimension following a notice of service by some lawyers on behalf of the boy, claiming damages in huge sum of money.
‘’Two weeks ago, some lawyers wrote to the airline claiming a huge sum of money in damages, so as we speak now, the matter has gone beyond the realm of this Committee to a Federal High Court according to the letter we got’’, he explained.
Joshua Abdul-Azeez, 17 was on his way to Kiev, the Ukrainian capital when his passport was seized and torn by Immigration officials at the Istanbul Airport in Turkey for not possessing a visa to his preferred destination, Moldova.
However, in his petition to the House Committee on Diaspora, he alleged that his ordeal was caused by the lack of professionalism on the part of Egypt Air which handled his travel arrangements from Nigeria.
The Committee however urged the Airline to reach an amicable settlement with the young man and take necessary measures to avoid future occurrences.