Four Air Peace passengers charged with assault, malicious damage

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Four Passengers who allegedly damaged a property belonging to Air Peace and assaulted its pilot at the Murtala Muhammed Airport, Lagos have been arraigned at the Ogba Magistrate’s Court.

According to the police, the accused, Mrs. Halima Mohammed, one Mr. Osagie and two others who are at large damaged a car belonging to the airline and assaulting a pilot while demanding compensation from the airline over the delay of their flight on May 26, 2018.

The accused who were arraigned on May 28 before Magistrate I.A Abina on a three-count charge of malicious damage pleaded not guilty to the charges.

Following an application for bail filed by their counsel, the court granted a N100, 000 bail to each of the defendants with two sureties in like sum.

The magistrate fixed May 30 for perfection of the bail condition and July 2 for hearing in the matter.

NewsGazette gathered that the airline had delayed its flights due to adverse weather report from the Nigerian Meteorological Agency (NiMeT)on Friday, May 25, 2018.

“Given the development, our teams sent email and text messages to those whose flights were affected, notifying them that their flights had been rescheduled to different times of the day.

“One of the flights affected by the adverse weather condition was our 7.40pm Abuja-Lagos service (Flight P47135). All passengers with reservation on the flight were notified at 12.37pm on Friday, May 25, 2018 (the day of the flight – seven hours ahead of the original flight time) through the email and phone contacts they supplied at the point of booking that the flight had been rescheduled till 9.35pm to avoid a situation where they would go to the airport to wait,” said the airline’s source who craved anonymity.

He said due to the persistent adverse weather, the flight could not operate out of Abuja at 9.35pm.

While the wait lasted, he said all passengers on the flight were duly served refreshment.

“However, a particular passenger, one Yusuf Abdul, on board the flight allegedly started inciting others to violence in Abuja. The flight could only take off from Abuja for Lagos at about 11pm.

“Upon landing in Lagos, the same passenger, now joined by five others, started inciting violence. They refused to disembark after other passengers left the aircraft. All appeals to them to disembark were rebuffed.

“The six passengers eventually went to block the exit of the aircraft, insisting that the crew members must compensate them or they (the crew members) would not be allowed to disembark from the aircraft. The intervention of the pilot-in-command did not change the stance of the passengers.

“After holding the crew members on board the flight for over one hour, Air Peace had to call for the intervention of the aviation security operatives of the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria. Appeals by FAAN AVSEC to the passengers to disembark were also rebuffed,” said the source.

After a struggle with the passengers, he said FAAN AVSEC operatives were eventually able to rescue the airline’s crew members from the aircraft.

But he alleged that the passengers attacked the crew members in the crew bus at the ramp and dragged them out of the moving vehicle.

Again, he said FAAN AVSEC’s intervention saved the day.

“But unknown to the crew, the passengers had moved to the arrival area of the airport to ambush and further attack the crew members. Trying to prevent the crew members from leaving the airport, the six passengers smashed the windscreen of the Honda car of one of the crew members and stripped another.

“It was at this point FAAN AVSEC operatives took the passengers in for questioning. The crew members were later invited to make statement. Again, right before FAAN AVSEC, the passengers kept assaulting the crew members, insisting that they (passengers) were out to bring the airline down.

“FAAN AVSEC operatives later transferred the passengers, crew members and damaged car to the police station close to Arik. The DPO, however, ordered that the matter be transferred to Beesam Police Command,” the source added.

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