Delayed Flight: Air Peace sues passengers for alleged assault

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The management of Air Peace airline on Monday sued some of its passengers for assault and malicious damage to property after persons aboard an Abuja-Lagos flight protested a lengthy flight delay.

The incident, which happened last Friday, saw at least four passengers charged before an Ikeja Magistrate Court for assaulting the airline’s pilot and damaging a car belonging to the company.

The passengers denied any wrongdoing.

PREMIUM TIMES learnt that trouble began after a 7.40 p.m. flight was repeatedly delayed till about 12.30 a.m. on Saturday.

“The flight was postponed three times between 7.40 p.m. and 9.35 p.m. when they sent the last notice of postponement,” Halima Mohammed, one of the passengers, told PREMIUM TIMES.

“After then until the flight left Abuja at about 12.30 a.m., there was no official communication on the status of the flight from the airline. We were only told to prepare to board at any time.

“A staff of the airline had told us not to be offended that the company would compensate us for the delay when we get to Lagos.”

However, on arrival in Lagos at about 1.30 a.m., the airline officials refused to fulfill their pledge to compensate the people on board, the passengers said.

“When the passengers got to Lagos, some of them didn’t have anywhere to sleep, some of them had missed their connecting international flight,” another passenger who declined to be named said.

“They now asked the crew members that they were told in Abuja that they would be compensated, that they should tell them who to talk to. They (the crew) told them they didn’t know about that, that they are tired.”

Ms Mohammed said the refusal by the airline to fulfill their promise sparked an argument between the aircraft’s crew and some of the passengers.

“During the whole thing, a guy was hit by one of the cars of the airline present and he angrily broke the glass of the car.

“N40,000 had already been paid for the replacement of the broken glass by Saturday morning. FAAN (Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria) heard the fracas and invited passengers to understand what was going on but after the broken glass, they transferred the case to the police station.

“We were told to come to the police station today (Monday) for settlement and I’m surprised the airline is saying it wants to go to court.”

Two passengers were charged before I.A Abina, a magistrate, on a three-count charge of malicious damage and they pleaded not guilty.

Two others allegedly absconded and are now at large, according to the police.

The magistrate granted the two passengers a N100,000 bail with two sureties, fixed May 30 for the perfection of the bail, and July 2 for mention.

Phone calls to Air Peace’s official lines were not answered.

Last year, the airline charged about three passengers, who said they raised safety concerns before a flight, to court after accusing them of being “disruptive.”