Sunday, 13 April 2008

British Airways an Anti Nigerian Airline? How BA Kicked out over 100 Nigerians from Plane

Humilation of Nigerians on British Airways by Ayodeji Omotade

On the 27th of March 2008 at about 12:30pm, I boardedthe British Airways flight BA75 and I went straight toseat 53C. On getting to my seat, there were noises from anindividual being forcibly restrained but who was notvisible because some police officers and some plainclothes people held him down. The noise continued formore than 20 minutes and I was concerned because theindividual was screaming in agony and shouting inpidgin English "I go die" meaning, I will die. Ipleaded with the officers not to kill him and my exactwords were "please don't kill him". The BritishAirways staff said that the officers were doing theirjobs and that nothing was going to happen. The noisebecame louder and other passengers started gettingconcerned and were complaining especially about theirsafety. The situation continued for another 15 minutesafter I got on. Eventually, a member of the cabin crew announced thatthe passenger was going to be removed and thepassenger was removed from the plane and we allthought that was the end of the situation. Fiveminutes later, two members of the cabin crew arrivedwith about 4 police officers and told me to get offthe plane. I asked what the matter was and they saidthat I was not going to travel with the airlinebecause the cabin crew thought I had been disruptiveby questioning the noise being caused by the personthat was removed. I pleaded with them that I was goingfor my brother's wedding and that I had all his stuffwith me. I was dragged out of the plane as if I wasresisting arrest. As we got to the corridor thatlinked the plane with the terminal building, I wasslammed against the wall and made to sit on the floor.I was still pleading with them telling them that theyhad completely misunderstood me and that I was onlycomplaining about the situation regarding thedisturbances caused by the deportee they were tryingto restrain and subdue. I was on the floor for about20 to 25 minutes. Another passenger was brought to thecorridor as well and he was also pleading with theofficers. I was later put in the back of the police van at about1:50pm and I was locked up there for about an hour ormore still handcuffed. I was formally arrestedapproximately 2:30pm and my rights were read to me.Before the arrest in the van, I managed to reach formy pocket and brought out my mobile phone. I made somephone calls to my wife, sister and a friend while thelow battery sign was on because I was all alone andstill handcuffed.I was later driven to the police station where I wasformally checked in. I was in police custody foralmost 8 hours and later released on bail after theinterview with the duty solicitor and the detectives.I had £473.00 on me which was seized as well as £90.00sent to my mother in-law from my sister in-law and£1,050.00 given to me by my cousin who is a doctor forthe upkeep of his parents in Nigeria. All the moneytogether was £1,613.00. I was told that I would appearin a magistrate court to prove the money was not meantfor crime or proceeds of crime. The officer told methat they will like to see traceability and that Ineeded my payslips and bank account detailing mypayments and withdrawals as well as my cousin'spayments and withdrawals.I was released but without the money. I made my way toterminal 4 and arrived there at about 12:30am but theBritish Airways kiosks were closed. I was directed tothe staff room and told them that I wanted to rebookmy trip to Lagos. A lady told me to give her my ticketand she stated that British Airways has banned me fromtravelling with them indefinitely and that only themanagers can use their discretions because I was a'disruptive passenger'. I requested for my 2 pieceluggage and she told me that the section will beopened later at about 5:30am and I will be escorted into collect them. I slept on the chair and waited tillabout 5:30am and attempted to rebook my ticket but wastold that British Airways refused to take me. Idecided to go and pick up my stuff and I was told thatmy luggage were missing. I was handed a form withreference number LONBA90924. At this point, I becametotally stranded because I could not leave without myluggage because it contained my brother's weddingsuit, shirts and accessories. I was on the phone with my wife and she wanted to bookan alternative flight that departs at 10:15am so thatI could make it for the wedding. This was not possiblebecause British Airways refused to disclose where myluggages were and did not remove my luggage from theflight when they called the police to arrest me. On Monday 31st of March, I appeared at the Magistratecourt but was told that a decision was made about the£1,613.00 that was seized from me. The police had beengranted a further 90 days to hold on to the moneypending their investigation. I was given the officer'sdetails . He requested 12 months bank statements and 6months payslip to prove that the £473.00 that belongsto me was not proceeds of crime and also requestedthat the £1,050.00 that was given to me by my cousinfor his parents should also be traced to my cousin's12 months bank statement and 6 months payslip. DCWebster has promised to write me detailing theserequests.Still on Monday 31st of March 4 days after I was takenoff the plane, I made extra efforts to find out thewhereabouts of my 2 piece luggage (LONBA90924),because they have not been sent to my address aspromised by calling the lost baggage section at13:44hrs and spoke to a man called Neil who said that,it is difficult for them to trace my bags and thatthere is a strong possibility that they might be inLagos. He suggested that I should call back in 24hours. Eventually, one week and one day later, my bags werebrought to me at home. One was badly damaged and theother was intact. British Airways delibrately madesure I missed the wedding because if they were kickingme off their flight, they would have removed my bagsfrom the flight. They were all there when the policeofficers made me to sit on the floor and heard mepleading to allow me fly for my brother's wedding. Icould have made either KLM or Virgin Nigeria thefollowing Friday morning.I will not want to believe that the authoritiesinvolved in the situation deliberately or cleverlypunished me unnecessarily out of frustration for notbeing able to restrain or subdue a deportee or that Ias a fee paying passenger was accused of affray withviolence when I was voicing my concerns about thedisturbances caused by the deportees. I nevermentioned any abusive or swear words neither was Iphysically threatening anyone. My luggage mysteriouslywas lost and I have been banned on all British Airwaysflights without a chance to say my part of the storyto redeem myself. 135 passengers were asked to leavethe flight because they expressed displeasureregarding the disturbances caused by the deportees andthe officers trying to restrain him. My ticket waseven refused to be endorsed by BA to enable me to flywith another airline. I need full compensation of myloss and also a letter of apology from BritishAirways.
RegardsAyodeji Omotade
The British Mirror Newspaper Reports
A British Airways captain ordered 136 passengers offhis plane in chaotic scenes after they all startedcomplaining to cabin crew.As the flight waited to take off at Heathrow the rowwas sparked by the restraint of a man being forciblydeported.Many were distressed by his pitiful cries of "I godie" and one passenger, Ayodeji Omotade, 39, spoke upon his behalf.The deportee was taken off the Lagos bound jet byimmigration staff and police.But five officers returned and arrested Mr Omotade.This outraged the other 135 passengers in the economyclass section and they complained to cabin crew.Amid riotous scenes in the aisles, 20 police officersboarded to calm everything down.Then the BA pilot took the extraordinary decision toboot off everyone who had witnessed the arrest of MrOmotade, an IT consultant from Chatham, Kent.The captain took the view they were all guilty ofdisturbing the flight, although no more passengerswere arrested.After the economy class section was virtually cleared,the deportee, aged about 30, was brought back on andthe flight left.The passengers were booked on to later flights but MrOmotade was told by BA staff he was banned by theairline for life.English-born Mr Omotade, married with a daughter agedfour, was handcuffed and kept in police custody foreight hours after his arrest. He has not been chargedand is seeking an apology from BA.He was travelling from Heathrow's Terminal 4 to Lagosfor his brother's marriage and had in his luggage thegroom's wedding ring, shirt and suit. He missed theceremony.He told the Mirror: "There were agonising noises froman individual being restrained. It went on for 20minutes."I pleaded with the officers and my exact words were,'Please don't kill him.'"I was not swearing or threatening. BA staff said theofficers were doing their jobs and nothing was goingto happen. When he was removed we thought it was theend of the matter."But police officers came back and I was handcuffedand dragged off the plane."He claims his luggage has been lost and £1,600 cash hehad for relatives has been taken and not returned.Scotland Yard confirmed: "A man was arrested foraffray and causing a disturbance and was bailed."Ba said: "Police were called to the BA75 service toLagos on March 27 after a large number of passengersbecame disruptive.Many were removed."We take any threats against our crew or passengersvery seriously and this kind of behaviour will not betolerated."