Immediate past president of the West Africa Bar Association, WABA, Mr. Femi Falana yesterday said dependents of the victims of the last Sunday Dana airline crash deserve more than $100,000 being offered them by the airline just as he called on the government to provide an habitable accommodation for those displaced by the air accident.
In a statement in Lagos, Falana said the money being offered by the Dana Airline as first tier payment otherwise known as Special Drawing Right under Article 17 of the Montreal Convention, is not an extra payment but a strict liability amount payable under the convention which has been domesticated in Nigeria.
According to Falana, the family of the deceased in accordance with the law are also “entitled to special and general damages which may not be less than N100 million per passenger depending on the responsibilities borne by each of them in their lifetime.”
The lawyer said such amount of money for loss of expectation of life “is payable by Dana Airline for gross negligence arising from the plane with defective dual engines and the Federal Government for failure to enforce the relevant regulations, failure to provide emergency landing for the plane and the inexplicable delay in providing the fire service equipment and medical services and other acts of gross negligence which led to the avoidable death of the passengers and the crew.”
Apart from these, he said dependants of the members of the public who were killed at the site of the crash are equally entitled to a greater amount of compensatory damages because the deprivation of the fundamental right to life of such persons is illegal and unconstitutional.
He also said the owners and tenants of the houses that were burnt or touched by the fire that gutted the aircraft are entitled to have them rebuilt or replaced by Dana Airline and the Federal Government.
Querying government’s decision to relocate the victims of the crash who lost their homes to the crash to a refugee camp, Falana said, “I have confirmed that the provision of dehumanising accommodation for them in dormitories at a refugee camp at Agege in the outskirts of Lagos has increased the mental and psychological trauma unleashed on such innocent victims.
“If the accident had occurred in Ikoyi or Victoria Island would the Lagos State Government have taken the victims to a refugee camp at Agege? As the occupants are entitled to have their houses rebuilt they should not be kept in transit camps but in hotels or decent houses whose expenses should be borne by Dana Airline and the Federal Government,” he added.
He noted that in other countries, passengers whose flights are cancelled are always lodged in hotels by defaulting airlines, adding, “why should the occupants of the houses destroyed by the Dana inferno be turned to beggars or refugees as a result of the avoidable tragedy?”
He therefore called on the Federal Government and t Dana Airline to embark on the payment of just and fair compensation to the dependants of the passengers and crew in the aircraft, the members of the public who were killed, as well as the people displaced as a result of the crash.