Air Peace Airline has dragged three of its passengers, who complained about an irregularity observed on one of its aircraft with number 7156, before a magistrate court in Lagos.
The airline charged Abuja-bound passengers Akinfolarin Oluwaseun, Mr. Daniel Chukwuemeka and Mrs. Osiyemi Abosede for breach of peace, according to the charge sheet seen by Saharareporters.
The three of them were arraigned before Mrs. M.I Dan-Oni of Ogba Magistrate in Lagos on Tuesday.
The incident that led to the arraignment happened on Monday, September 11, at the domestic terminal 1 of Murtala Muhammed International Airport when one of the passengers, Mr. Akinfolarin, asked flight attendant asked about emergency exit procedures on the aircraft they boarded observing that the seats in the emergency exit row obstruct the emergency doors on the wing.
Mr. Akinfolarin said he observed that seats were placed directly in front of the emergency exit doors, stating that such act is a risk to their safety.
He then asked an air hostess why the seats were there but did not get an answer rather a male attendant directed his colleague not to entertain such questions.
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The hostess, who was seen in a video giving safety precautions, promised to address the issue once she was done with the safety precaution routine. However, when she finished and decided to give reason why extra seats were fixed by the emergency door, the other attendant hurried her out of the aisle.
This action infuriated other passengers who felt it was rude for the attendant to ask his colleague not to respond to important safety question asked by Mr. Akinfolarin.
According to Mr. Chukwuemeka all the passengers on board became angry and the situation was further aggravated when announcement filtered from the intercom that passengers not comfortable with the condition should deboard.
He said "The unruly behavior of the air hostesses angered the passengers who demanded to know why their safety would be compromised.
"A male attendant came and asked the lady not to answer any question, while we were addressing that, he went into the cockpit but we don't know what he told the pilot.
"All we heard was announcement asking passengers who were not pleased with the condition of the aircraft to go down. People got really angry because of the announcement.
"They then went to bring the owner of the airline" Mr. Chukwuemeka explained.
However, when Mr. Allen Onyema, Chairman of the airline, came, Chukwuemeka said he threatened to detain the passengers who were vocal, stating he would ensure they get locked up.
The three passengers were subsequent kicked off the plane and handed over to security officers.
Mrs. Osiyemi also narrated that before they were eventually deboarded, the pilot demanded they apologize to him. After initial hesitation, she said about five of them went into the cockpit to apologize to the pilot but he insisted he would not fly the plane until they were removed from the aircraft.
She also alleged that the Chairman of Air Peace threatened to lock them up for delaying the flight which she said had delayed them for over an hour thirty minutes before it arrived.
"We were taken to BISAM police station that night. We had thought that the matter would be resolved amicably only for the police to inform us that they were charging us to court" Mr. Akinfolarin explained.
The alleged offense is punishable under section 166 (d) of the criminal law of Lagos state of Nigeria 2011.
Mrs. Osiyemi lamented that her travel plans were disrupted as she was unable to meet the international flight she ought to join in Abuja.
Also, our correspondent learnt that Mr. Chukwuemeka had to travel to Abuja by a night bus after the court processes, including ratifying bail conditions, which ended very late in the yesterday.
Every attempt to speak to Air Peace representatives who were at the court was rebuffed.
The case which was handled by humn rights lawyer, Effiong Inibehe was adjourned to September 27 for parties to argue their positions.