December 21, 2020

1. The Association of lawyers with Disabilities in Nigeria (ALDIN) is horrified by the discriminatory conduct of DANA Air against a member of their community, in the person of Dr. Chike Okogwu. 

2. The facts and evidence available to ALDIN is that Dr. Chike Okogwu had boarded a 7:20pm flight from Abuja to Lagos on December 20, 2020 which was rescheduled by Dana Air to 9:05pm. At the time of Boarding, Dr. Chike Okogwu was told that he could not travel along with the others because he was a wheelchair user.  Note that there was no previous warning to this shocking turn of event. 

It was Dana Air that rescheduled the flight of Dr. Chike Okogwu to night and then again turned around to say they cannot fly him at night because he was a special person - the airline is precluded from approbating and reprobating at the same time. The intentional discriminatory measures and breach of contract against passengers with disabilities by DANA Air is manifestly reprehensible.

3. Dr. Chike Okogwu is not alone in the quagmire of this sort of inhuman treatment meted by Dana Air against passengers with disabilities. The ALDIN is in receipt of complaints from other members of the disability community about how the airline metes discriminatory guidelines, policies and treatment against them.

4. We condemn in strongest terms the deliberate abuse of the rights of Dr. Chike Okogwu and other persons with disabilities, by Dana Air. We submit that the conduct of Dana Air is unlawful, inhuman and culpable. Dana Air’s penchant for discriminatory policies against passengers with disabilities is against the relevant provisions of the “Discrimination Against Persons with Disabilities (Prohibition) Act of 2018, specifically,

Section 1(1) states that;

A person with disability shall not be discriminated against on the ground of his disability by any person or institution in any manner or circumstance.

(2)     A person who contravenes subsection (1), commits an offence and is liable on conviction to, if the person is –

(a)     a body corporate, a fine of N1,000,000.00; and 

(b)     an individual, a fine of N100,000.00 or six months imprisonment or both 

(3)     Notwithstanding the prosecution, conviction or otherwise of any person for any offence under this Act, the person against whom the crime or wrong is committed may maintain a civil action against the person committing the offence or causing the injury, without prejudice to any conviction or acquittal.

Also relevant in this case, is Section 14 which is to the effect that;  

All airlines operating in Nigeria shall -

(a)     ensue the accessibility of their aircraft to persons with disabilities;

(b)     make available presentable and functional wheelchairs for the conveyance of persons with disabilities who need them to and from the aircraft;

(c)     ensure that persons with disabilities are assisted to get on and off board in safety and reasonable comfort; and

(d)     ensure that persons with disabilities are accorded priority while boarding and disembarking from the aircraft.

(2)     All airports shall make available for the conveyance of persons with disabilities who need presentable and functional assistive and protective devices to and from the aircraft.

5. It is clear that DANA Air’s repugnant and careless policy to the effect that a passenger with disabilities cannot fly alone but in company of an aide, and also that he cannot fly at night is against the spirit and letter of the law cited above. 

A passenger with disabilities only possesses infirmity and not disease or sickness. Passengers with disabilities are able to travel at any time they so desire and are by law entitled to assistive and protective devices to do so, not preclusion. 

6. We will not stop short of being moved emotionally by the harrowing and abusive treatment of Dana Air on our people but are resolved to do anything possible within the ambit of the law to seek justice for our members. Accordingly, we call on Dana Air to immediately tender an apology to Dr. Chike Okogwu and all other persons with disabilities they have wronged; make appropriate reparation for their wrongdoing, and change forthwith, all discriminatory policies against persons with disabilities.

7. ALDIN is determined to pursue a legal cause of action should DANA Air fails to redress all the wrong and conduct its business in a lawful and non-discriminatory manner.

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