REPORT BY Sola Salako - a Consumer Rights Activist
ARIK Air is in the news again! For zero customer service culture! This time, it's a back log of passenger luggages for 3 flights between Lagos- London from Friday December 2 - Monday December 5.
I went to the MMIA to sort some business and walked into a chaos of angry, frustrated and agitated consumers who had disrupted the normal ARIK Check-in counter to prevent them from boarding the Monday flight to London because their luggage was yet to arrive Lagos since Friday night.
When I listened to the various tales of woe from mothers with babies and toddlers who had no change of supplies to take care of their children; to transit passengers who couldn't leave for Cameroon, Abuja, Port Harcourt, Ibadan etc, my Consumer Protection antenna switched on and I stepped in to try to help resolve the impasse.
According to the affected passengers:
1. Arik Air flew a small plane to London which could not take all its passengers and their luggage. They shared a leaflet ( I am yet to see a copy) explaining the space challenges to passengers that only one piece of luggage would be air lifted per passenger but reassured then their luggage would be on the next flight to Lagos. That was on Friday night. Oh! Arik Air still accepted excess luggage in spite of its space challenges.
2. Some passengers claimed Arik Air insisted on checking their hand luggage with baby food and supplies, medication, etc.
3. Arriving Lagos on Saturday morning, they discovered that Arik Air lifted only 50 pieces of luggage and not the one piece per passenger they were told! They were told to return Sunday morning to pick their luggage. No arrangements were made for providing temporary personal supplies or baby food, medications for affected passengers neither did Arik Air make provisions for accommodation for transit passengers who had nowhere to stay in Lagos.
4. On Sunday morning, not only did their luggage not arrive, there was NO customer service desk to assist the passengers in resolving their individual inconveniences occasioned by Arik Air's incompetence! Wedding gowns were stuck in transit. One passenger, Ms Onafeko claimed an Arik Air staff even threatened to hit a passenger with a rod when the passengers' frustration boiled over!
5. On Monday morning, the now very angry passengers arrived Arik Air Check-in counter and got unruly. They prevented Arik Air from checking in passengers for the Lagos-London flight until their luggage arrived! That was the chaos I met.
6. In trying to resolve the issue, Arik Air's lack of empathy and redress structures aggravated the passengers' frustrations. They had also been insincere with the actual position of the back log as they were still flying the smaller plane thus backlog for 3 flights had piled up as at Monday. When we requested for the logistics plan to clear the backlog, Arik Air could not provide one! Their only concern was to board the Monday flight!
7. In trying to appease the passengers to allow them board the flight, Arik wrote an undertaking assuring them that their luggage will arrive Tuesday morning unfailingly or they will compensate each passenger whose luggage does not arrive N50,000. The letter however made NO reference to the passenger's rights to compensation for the 3 days inconvenience nor offered any assistance for passengers with infants or those in transit! Many had been sleeping in the Airport terminal since Saturday! Others were paying for hotels or squatting just to wait for their luggage.
8. When I insisted that Arik Air must accept responsibility for the displacement the passengers were experiencing and acknowledge that on the letter of undertaking, the Regional Manager, one Mr Rasheed threatened to sue me for interfering in his business since I was not his passenger!
9. After 3 hours of tempers flaring, Arik Air trying to shirk its international obligations to its passengers under the circumstance, the FAAN Operations and Terminal managers intervened and got Arik Air's commitment that an empty plane was on ground in London to airlift all outstanding baggages.
I appealed to the passengers to accept the edited letter now acknowledging that their rights were actionable irrespective of the conditional N50k compensation if their luggage did not arrive Tuesday as promised and the Lagos-London flight was finally able to board....4 hours behind schedule!
10. I was able to get the DG CPC involved and she directed the Lagos office coordinator to be at the airport this morning to ensure the consumers' rights are protected. I will also be there to follow through with our lawyers...just in case anyone wants to violate the law!
I should also commend the Protocol Officer of the Police Force at MMIA, a lawyer, who did excellent mediation to help resolve the crisis and ensure peace at the terminal.
I will update you on what transpires this morning though I already received a call from one of the passengers who claimed an Arik Air staff called her last night to say they should not come at 6.am anymore but wait till 4pm! (Methinks it is to prevent them from disrupting the Check-in counter for the second day running! That means contrary to all Arik Air's assurances yesterday, the luggage may still not have been airlifted?) I hope not!
Planning to fly Arik Air soon? Caveat Emptor!
After several months on incarceration in dungeon despite the ruling of the courts for his immediate release,a lawyer Barr Emeka Uchegbulam has petitioned Amnesty International over the continued detention of his client Selky Torughedi aka Yong Shall Grow a former agitator and activist.
This is a copy of the letter as obtained by CKN News
5th December, 2016
The Country Director,
SAVE SELKY TORUGHEDI, A.K A YOUNG SHALL GROW BEFORE HE DIES IN DSS PRISON
We are writing this letter to you as an institution, and an individual that believes in sanctity of human rights, the rule of law, equity and justice and an advocate of the rights of the common man to live without let or hindrance from the powers that be.
We wish to bring to your attention the unlawful arrest, torture and continued incarceration of our client, Selky Torughedi, aka Young shall grow in the hands of Nigeria secret police, DSS in the last six months despite court judgment that he should be set free.
As we write this letter. Selky is languishing in DSS prison, he is seriously sick with virtually no medical attention and his health is deteriorating by the day.
His suffering began on 17th June, 2016 at about 1 am, Some heavily armed men numbering about ten decked in black uniform with hood drawn over their faces broke into his house where he lived with his wife
and three very young children aged between 2 and 5. They dragged him from his bed, got him handcuffed in the presence of the wife and the young children.
For a grueling 45 minutes, they ransacked his house apparently in search of incriminating evidence, and when they could not find any, the men who introduced themselves as operatives of the Department of State Security (DSS) literarily dragged Selky Torughedi from the house and bundled him into a waiting vehicle that took him away.
From his Calabar residence, he was transferred to Abuja where the DSS told the nation that it has succeeded in arresting one of the arrowheads of the Niger Delta Avengers, a militant group which had committed heinous crimes including kidnapping, terrorism, pipeline vandalism, arms importation and economic sabotage.. They also said the man is a close associate of the wanted former militant commander, Government Ekpemupolo a.k.a Tompolo and that it has an intelligent report that Selki Torughedi was planning to kill one MB Yahaya, a serving Army officer on special duty in the troubled region.
But a couple of days after his arrest and detention, the Niger Delta Avengers in an online broadcast that went virile, denied tersely that the man in the custody of the DSS, Selky Torughedi was their member. Rather they branded him a mole who the Security agency was trying to use as a decoy to trap them.
Then the question was: Is Selky actually a member of the Niger Delta Avengers, or is he a red herring the government is spinning to entrap
the kingpins of the organization? Why would a group deny its member who is caught in the line of an avowed operation? These were some of the puzzles discerning minds who took initial interest in the DSS\Torughedi matter were confronted with. (Unfolding events has overtime shown who the aggressor is)
He was locked up for over one month with no access to his family member or legal counsel.
Apparently piqued by the seeming breech of the rights of Selky to legal representation under the stipulated time frame allowed for detention without trial, counsel to the accused, Emeka Uchegbulam Esq. filed a suit on 4th July 2016 at the Federal High court in Abuja against the Director General, DSS for the enforcement of Selky’s fundamental human rights pursuant to section 46 sub section 3 of the 1999 constitution of the federal Republic of Nigeria as amended.
Emeka Uchegbulam prayed that a declaration be made to the effect that the arrest and detention of Selki since June 17th without trial or access to legal representation is illegal, unlawful and oppressive and a violation of the fundamental rights of his client.
Uchegbulam also wanted the court to give an order compelling the Department of state security to immediately release Selky if they could not charge him to court for want of evidence that could stimulate prosecution.
After an encumbering session of technical security rigmarole, the DSS filed a petition at the same court enunciating its grounds of opposition to the release of Selky Torughedi.
Delivering judgment on August 3rd, 2016 in the application filed by Emeka Uchegbulam, seeking for the enforcement of his client’s fundamental human rights under sections 34, 35, 36 and 41 of the 199 constitution as amended, and the petition by the DSS to the contrary, Honorable Justice Nnamdi Dimgba said the state security service erred in law to have detained Selky Torughedi for such a length of time without any evidence of fault.
The Judge affirmed that the explanations given by the DSS that the accuse was a threat to the society were wide and very speculative, noting that the justification offered for the continuous incarceration of the suspect were bereft of any shred of evidence to back them up. He said the court could only act on the basis of credible evidence.
The DSS had deposed to an affidavit before the court that the suspect is a high ranking member and sponsor of the Niger Delta Avengers and that he was arrested for his involvement in acts of militancy, terrorism, kidnapping, blowing up pipelines and plans to assassinate some top government officials in the country. Against the backdrop of these allegations, they said it would be prejudicial to free the suspect as it would constitute a threat to national security.
But Justice Dimgba overruled these allegations. According to him, the DSS has no single proof to offer to back their claims .Such proof he
said could have been in the form of a call log from communication companies showing discussions which the suspect has had with militant members plotting the nefarious activities as alleged.
He said it could have equally been in the form of statements offered by other arrested members pointing out the suspect as their member. Better still, he said the DSS could have come up with an exhibit no matter how small, be it a confessional statement made by the applicant for the court to evaluate. And neither did they explain in what form the applicant’s sponsorship of the militant group had taken whether it was financial, material or just moral sponsorship.
The Judge also made the DSS to realize the futility of its position on the continuous detention of Selky Torughedi when he said a suspect who is accused of planning to blow up pipelines and commit other crimes couldn’t have been arrested at midnight in the bosom of his wife; one should expect that he would be in the creeks with his comrades at arms.
Justice Nnamdi Dimgba lamented that the DSS has not provided him with an iota of evidence to enable him rule for the continuous incarceration of Selky Torughedi without charging him to court within the period prescribed by sections 35(4) and (5) of the constitution.
In the absence of such concrete material, Justice Dimgba ordered that selky Torughedi be released immediately , while stating emphatically that any incarceration that is not backed by order of a competent court
is illegal, unconstitutional and must be shot down by the court, being the guardian of those sacred rights secured by the constitution”
Sir, it will interest you to know that four months after the judgment was given and the ruling served on the DSS, they have refused to obey the court order they have refused to appeal the judgment, they didn’t charge him to court for any criminal offence, Selky Torughedi is still bound in fetters in the cold dungeon of the DSS with his health deteriorating every passing day.
When we approached the court again to seek for an order compelling the DSS to obey the execution of its order, the judge told us that he has withdrawn from hearing the matter and that he has returned the case to the chief judge for re-assignment. We were surprised at the sudden turn of events.
However, on investigation, we gathered that the DSS blackmailed the judge out of the case as a result of a petition to the National Judicial Commission ( NJC } that the judge had taken bribe from the family of Selky Torughedi to rule against them.
Recall sir, that the judge, Nnamdi Digba was the only judge whose residence was invaded by the DSS during the recent onslaught on some Nigerian judges by the rampaging and uncontrollable secret police without a warrant of search and the only thing they took from his house was his bag containing rulings he was meant to deliver.
Curiously, no charge was preferred against him and he has since resumed sitting while other judges who were raided on that fateful day by the DSS have been made to step aside.
Who do you cry to in a situation like this in a country supposedly governed by the rule of law? Which superior organ of government do you report such naked abuse of human rights?
Undeterred by the frustrating act of impunity of the DSS , we decided to seek the intervention of the National Human Rights Commission to save Selky Torughedi from the persecution of the DSS.
In a letter dated 4th October, 2016 from the chambers of Emeka Uchegbulam and co, we explained the ordeal of Selky Torughedi, detailing the genesis and tortuous process we have gone through to make DSS to charge our client to court if indeed there are evidence of the allegations they made against him or obey the court order issued by the constitutional body charged with the responsibility of arbitration in such a matter. See attached document.
Again, over two months after the save our soul letter was written to the National Human Rights Commission, all we got was an acknowledgement letter and no other action while Selky continues to waste away in the DSS prison.
Our latest investigation revealed that the DSS is convinced that it has no evidence against Selky, but it is holding on to him with a view to making him to implicate some highly placed people in the Niger Delta
who they believe are the unseen hands behind the Niger Delta Avengers.
But Selky has continued to maintain that he cannot cooperate with DSS to implicate innocent people stressing that it is a sin against man and God to so do. Therefore, because of his refusal to do the sinister will of the DSS, they are determined to continue to detain him even at the risk to his life, they care less.
As at the last visit to Selky in the DSS prison, he was a pitiable sight to behold. He has emaciated badly and he was virtually a walking corpse.
Sir, we are of the belief that the DSS is determined to kill Selky Torughedi, we are convinced beyond all reasonable doubts. Our conviction is anchored on the fact that he is chained twenty four hours and seven days in a week even inside cell. He is underfed without proper medical attention and he is interrogated almost every day with a threat to hold him down until he implicates somebody.
Sir, we are writing this letter to you to please in the name of God help us to use your good offices to intervene in this blatant human rights abuse by the Nigerian secret police before the obituary of our client. Selky Torughedi.
Accept the assurances of our esteemed regards.
WHO IS KILE SELKY TORUGHEDI ?
Born in April, 1980. Selki had his primary and secondary education in Ikot-Ansa, Cross Rivers state and Azuzuama, southern Ijaw in Bayelsa state respectively, before proceeding to the Kogi state polytechnic to obtain the Higher National Diploma in Public Administration .
An ardent student of the works and principles of the beacon of the Niger Delta struggle, the late Isaac Adaka Boro, Selky actually caught his teeth in human rights activitism in his secondary school days as a foot soldier of the great environmentalist/activist, late Ken Saro Wiwa.
As an acknowledgement of his commitment to the cause of the Niger Delta struggle, the Young Shall Grow as he is fondly called was made the head of the southern wing of the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta in 2002 when he was barely 22 years old.
This role he performed creditably amidst a legion of comrades who were far older and more experienced than him.
In recognition of his ombudsmanship in his community, the late president, Umar Musa Yar’Adua accorded him special recognition when the Amnesty program was being instituted and going by his exploits and general contributions to the well being of the Niger Delta, the Global Peace Initiative of Nigeria honored Selki with the post Amnesty Peace Ambassador Award.
A philanthropist per excellence, Selki Torughedi is a benefactor to many young minds in his community and its environ who are poor and in need in the areas of education, community projects, youth empowerment, and scholarship.
A passionate believer in education as the most potent tool for the development of mankind from all forms of oppression, Selki has a scholarship scheme that caters for over 40 indigenes of the Niger Delta, a totally free nursery and primary school with a population of over 100 pupils, in addition to an empowerment scheme for the women who are paid on a daily basis to sweep and keep the community clean.
A few months before his arrest and incarceration, Selki Torughedi was a senior special adviser on Marine water way security to the present governor of Bayelsa state, Seriake Dickson.
Selky Torughedi aka Young Shall Grow is married to Ala-Ere and they have four children.
Kaduna State Government has declared Nigeria’s biggest Shiite group, Islamic Movement in Nigeria (IMN), an insurgent group, saying its activities threatened peace and security.
In a white paper released yesterday on the report of the Judicial Commission of Inquiry (JCI) into the clashes between the Nigeria Army and IMN in Zaria, the government said the commission failed to consider many observations included in the memos submitted to it by individuals and groups.
The white paper is coming one year after the clash in which 347 persons were killed.
The JCI had in its report blamed the Army, the federal and Kaduna State governments as well as the IMN for the clash and the high number of casualties.
Briefing newsmen on the white paper, media aide to the Kaduna State governor, Samuel Aruwan, said “All IMN members and its leadership are jointly and severally liable for all violations of the law in the last 30 years, and are therefore responsible for the clashes and its consequences.”
The white paper, Aruwan said, also noted that members of the IMN owed absolute loyalty to Sheikh Ibraheem El-Zakzaky. “ He therefore bears responsibility for all the acts of lawlessness committed by the organisation and should therefore be held responsible, fully investigated and prosecuted,” he said.
The state government said the commission did not consider the years during which the activities of the IMN in Gyallesu had threatened peace and security.
“The White Paper also acknowledged that …for all intent and purpose, the IMN is an insurgent group and ought to be treated as such,” Aruwan said, adding that two other Shia groups – Al-Thaqalayn and RasulA’azam – are active in Kaduna State, and both gave testimony to the Judicial Commission of Inquiry, affirming that the Shia faith “can be observed and ought to be protected within the boundaries set and permitted by the Nigerian constitution and other laws”.
The white paper also rejected suggestion that the burial of the victims did not conform to the law.
“Government observes that its officials complied with the Burial Law of the State. Section 7 sub-section 1 of the Burial Law Cap 20 Laws of Kaduna State Government 1991 requires the burial of persons who die in this type of circumstances within 24hrs. The Interpretation section of Rule 115 Geneva Convention also states that in circumstances of this nature, dead bodies could be buried in a mass grave.”
Aruwan noted that the white paper also rejected the Judicial Commission of Inquiry’s view on actions taken to clear structures at the scenes of the clashes, saying the debris at the Hussainiyya Baqiyatullah and at the residence of Sheikh Ibraheem El-Zakzaky were removed on the grounds of Public Health and safety.
“All the IMN buildings that were demolished were constructed without statutory title and building permit as required by the Land Use Act and Section 26 of the KASUPDA Law No.12 of 2015,” he explained.
The governor’s spokesman said with regards to the findings of the Commission on the conduct of the Nigerian Army, the State Government noted the recommendation that members of the Nigerian Army that may have been involved in the unlawful killing of 347 citizens should be brought to trial before a Court of competent jurisdiction.
“The Kaduna State Government is assured that the Federal Government will not condone unlawful killing of any citizen and that this conduct will be further investigated and any culprits identified will first be subjected to court martial by the federal authorities, followed by civil prosecution by the state government,” he said.
The state government said it had however accepted the recommendations of the commission that all incidents of violence and aggression by the members of the IMN against individuals, groups or communities be fully investigated and culprits brought to book and here appropriate, compensations should be paid.
The State Government said it also accepted that it should investigate and repossess all illegally acquired public lands from IMN and utilize same for Public Interest.
Aruwan said the Kaduna State Government had already acted on some of the recommendations and will now take steps to implement the others while those recommendations that are solely within the powers of the Federal Government have been referred for further necessary action.
“Government has already acted to declare the IMN an unlawful society and is prosecuting the IMN members alleged to be involved in the killing of Corporal Dan Kaduna Yakubu. Government has also ensured that property destroyed in the clashes have been valued to ascertain reasonable compensation to circumstantial victims,” he added.
There was no immediate response by the IMN yesterday, but the group did not appear before the JCI, insisting that their leader must be released as a precondition for participation.
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