Arik abandons injured passenger after crew poured hot tea on him; no first aid kit on board

Arik Air

Bayoor Ewuoso’s experience aboard Arik Air flight W3 103 Y Lagos to Johannesburg on October 31, 2014, exposes the reality and danger of flying with airlines which compromise on basic safety requirements.

About an hour before arriving Johannesburg, Mr. Ewuoso said he requested a cup of coffee, which an Arik flight attendant mistakenly spilled on his thighs. His pains turned to disbelief and shock when the attendant told him there was no first aid kit on board the plane and that he should go to the toilet and pour cold water on the spot.

“I was shocked, I felt very bad when he told me there was no first aid kit on board. I just thought to myself, if this was something else, probably, I would even die under Arik’s watch,” Mr. Ewuoso said.

In the toilet, Mr. Ewuoso noticed he had serious burns on both thighs. He splashed cold water on himself and returned to his seat. Not even the slight relief felt from applying Vaseline jelly given to him by a female passenger seated behind him was able to reduce the pain he felt on the flight to South Africa, Mr. Ewuoso said.

On arrival at Johannesburg, Mr. Ewuoso said Arik Air abandoned him to his plight without making any arrangement for him to get proper medical attention. By the time he checked into his hotel, he discovered the burn had become a wound. He consulted a pharmacist who gave him a syrup and some pain killers.

Burnt Bayoor Ewuoso
Burnt Bayoor Ewuoso

Mr. Ewuoso, a multiple award winning photojournalist, was in South Africa to attend an Investigative Journalism conference at the University of Witwatersrand. The few times he ventured out in public during his seven-day stay in Johannesburg saw him being ridiculed because of the way he walked. Mr. Ewuoso was in constant pain and discomfort.

Aderonke Ogunleye, a PREMIUM TIMES reporter present at the journalism conference, said people felt pity for Mr. Ewuoso. “He didn’t even look like he paid attention at the conference. Seeing Bayoor like that was terrible,” Ms. Ogunleye said.

Mr. Ewuoso sent an email to Arik Air on November 8 complaining of his predicament. The airline did not reply until after two weeks when an Arik official called him on his mobile telephone to enquire what Mr. Ewuoso wanted the airline to do about the issue. By this time the Wole Soyinka Centre for Investigative Journalism (WSCIJ) had taken the responsibility of handling the matter, Mr. Ewuoso replied the official.

Arik which boasts of “efficiency, customer-commitment, adherence to aviation polices and standards and an avant-garde in providing quality aviation services” flies to South Africa, the United Kingdom, the United States of America, the United Arab Emirates, Benin Republic, Ghana, Senegal, Gambia, Liberia, Sierra Leone, Cameroun and Angola.

Mr. Ewuoso’s ordeal presupposes that the over 10 million Arik air passengers flying within Nigeria and the airline’s 12 international destinations are flying at grave personal risks.

Arik denies responsibility

Ola Adebanji, Arik’s spokesperson, in response to PREMIUM TIMES enquiry, said Mr. Ewuoso was the one who spilled the hot coffee on himself and not the flight attendant. He said that all of the airline’s planes are equipped with first aid boxes but that Mr. Ewuoso did not request for first aid treatment.

“The crew member offered the passenger Vaseline ointment which was declined. The passenger was also asked to go to the toilet to check the extent of the burns which he did and said he was okay,” Mr. Adebanji said. “The crew checked on the passenger several times to know how he was doing and at no time did the passenger raise an alarm about burns,” Mr. Adebanji added.

Mr. Ewuoso refutes Arik’s claims. He said he intends to seek redress for the airline’s unprofessional conduct. 

“Am I a kid that something like this will happen and I’ll not request for any treatment? I showed the attendant the burns and all he said was sorry,” Mr Ewuoso said. “It was the attendant who poured the coffee on me. But even if I was the one, does it mean they cannot provide first aid?”

Dr. Tuyi Mebawondu-Olowu, an international health expert and medical doctor with over 20 years experience, told PREMIUM TIMES that the treatment for burns sustained from hot liquids should involve cooling the burn under water, followed by the application of an anti-burn ointment and analgesic to relieve the pain.

The airline should have also ensured Mr. Ewuoso got proper medical attention after the plane landed, Dr. Mebawondu-Olowu said.

Speaking to PREMIUM TIMES, the coordinator of the Wole Soyinka Centre for Investigative Journalism, Motunrayo Alaka, said bringing Mr. Ewuoso’s plight to public knowledge was not to vilify Arik but to ensure airlines and aviation authorities live up to their responsibility in ensuring safety for air travellers.

“For the grade of burns caused by their staff, or even if it was caused by the passenger himself, we are concerned because Bayoor said he had complained on board but that they did not even have a first aid kit,” Ms. Alaka said.

Yakubu Datti, Aviation spokesman, told PREMIUM TIMES that the standard aviation operational practice is for every aircraft to have a first aid kit with crew members upon employment expected to be trained to handle emergencies.

The Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority is the government regulatory body which oversees the aviation industry, including the activities of airlines and their personnel.

NCAA rules spell out that crew members must have knowledge of emergency and first aid equipment and drills. The Authority further mandates airlines to submit a report to it within three days of any accident that occurs on a flight.

Fan Nduboke, NCAA spokesperson, told PREMIUM TIMES that there is no record of Mr. Ewuoso’s incident aboard Arik Air flight W3 103 Y Lagos to Johannesburg. He said an official complaint first needs to be lodged to enable the NCAA launch an investigation before any airline operator can be sanctioned for any wrongful act.

Okechukwu Ukandu, an aviation safety consultant who spoke to PREMIUM TIMES, said Mr. Ewuoso’s story underscores the need for Nigerian aviation authorities to ensure airlines and their personnel strictly abide by aviation rules to avoid similar or worse occurrences in the future.

“This kind of act is a safety breach, it’s a breach of aviation safety protocols and the cabin crew are supposed to be able to administer first aid treatment; it is part of their training. I mean, that’s very wrong, he’s expected to sue them,” Mr. Ukandu said.


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  • amazing2012

    Arik is exact reflection of decayed of Nigeria society/ institution. Don’t be surprised the crew was thinking of his salary which has not been for months ! My experience with Arik is wheat I have a cancelled flight with while traveling with my family. This is 3years I have not been paid ! I went to their refund office at Ikeja airport in many occasions but no success.
    I urged our lawyers to put up an institution on passenger right just like in Europe, perhaps we can have some relief from this open day light fraud.

  • Sopulu

    Clearly Arik fell short in its responsibilities but making this your headline news is another demonstration that Propaganda Times “journalists” are very, very short in news judgement and professional journalism in general.

    • Steve

      No doubt you are a very sick mind. Tell me, if news house can not make this story a headline, what precisely should now be a headline? Premium Times many thanks for alerting of critical danger that awaits me if I choose to fly an airline without first aids facilities, especially if I have a medical condition.

      • Uwadiegwu

        Steve, stop advertising your ignorance.

        • Conscience

          I am very sure if this happen to an American on any of American airlines (AA, UA, Delta etc), It will definitely be a headline story on CNN and the airline will definitely appologise (and quickly offer compensation to prevent court action).
          Last year a friend of mine had an experience with Delta airline (flying from Atlanta to Lagos) – they were delayed for over three hours after all were seated. Not only did the Captain appologise onbehalf of Delta but as they were coming down from the plane in Lagos, a letter of appology were given to all of them with a promise for monetary compensation – my friend latter told me that he was paid back about $500 plus (though he can only use the money to buy Delta flight ticket)

    • Rapuokwu

      They appear to have listened as the story has been demoted.

  • Emancipation

    Arik Air is a Nigerian project.

  • Atom Ant

    After reading this story, I checked through the list of related news items underneath and can safely conclude that Arik has a ‘we don’t give a damn’ attitude towards its passengers. Regulatory agencies should begin to value our lives more than the revenues generated from these airline operators.

  • Ahmad

    Arik can do worse than that. Their flights both local and international are either delayed for hours or cancelled without the least apology.

  • Konkolo

    Arik Air again? This glorified molue air transport corporation does not even have or offer life insurance coverage to its crew members. In a nut-shell, crew members fly at their own risk wether domestic or international. Paying the Nigerian employees salaries as at when due is another head ache for the company. As at today (12/06/14), I have been reliably informed that the company is owing its Nigerian employees two months salaries. They pay the foreign employees salaries when due while the Nigerian employees are left to fend for themselves pending when management decide to pay them. How wicked and calous can one be to treat their workers like this??????????????????????? Only in Nigeria!!!!!!!!!!

  • Naija_Adviser

    My experience with Arik Air on an international flight (Lagos – JFK) was really unpleasant. The airplane was so hot prior to take off it was ridiculous. How we can pay anyone to treat us with such disregard is impossible to understand. There was no functional entertaiment system during that flight (a long haul flight for that matter).

    My advice to Arik air is to either improve significantly or focus on being a local airline within Nigeria with newer planes.

  • zacchaeus Akinleye

    This is Arik Air …fly her at your own RISK!

  • Raji Bello

    People complain, complain and complain. Then they STILL continue to fly Arik. Can’t we just stop flying the airline? We have dealt with Arik on the Yola route; when people had enough, they simply stopped flying the airline. Arik now goes to Yola with 80% seats empty because of passenger boycott.

  • McAlfred Uta

    Check out the owners of Arik and how they governed Nigeria when they were in power and you will understand why safety is of no importance. I really wish Arik survives at least to reciprocate the bilateral air agreement which most foreign airlines, Delta, South Africa, Emirates, KLM, Lufthansa, British Airways, Turkish, Egypt Air, Ethiopian, Kenya Airways, Qatar, etc are enjoying to the disadvantage of Nigeria.

  • ODOFIN, Lagos

    Nigerians are fun of complaining about their own things – Delta Air, an American Airline, does worse than Arik yet nothing happen. In as much I will not encourage Arik to do something bad to passengers, I think we should not destroy this airline with bad mouth and an unpalatable assertions. But rather point out their mistake in love and encourage them to be better. I have been flying only Arik in Nigeria and to Ghana since 2008…

    • Merc

      That’s a joke right? ‘Point out in love’? If you have a responsibility to the passengers in your care, then you do the needful whether you’re an American airline or a Nigerian airline. Talking about what Delta Airline has done or does does not make Arik’s performance okay. Call a spade a spade!

      • ODOFIN, Lagos

        Please read through my comment carefully. I did not suggest that Arik was right to have done that. I only stated that we should not kill one of our owns with bad-mouth. It does not mean we can not complain when need be

        • John Doe

          Go and sit down Odofin. You don’t know what you are saying. Which bad mouth would you be running your mouth if you or a family member was the one the Arik staff poured hot coffee on; or maybe you would keep still and encourage Arik if the journalist had lost the use of his manhood. People like you condone mediocrity and wrongdoing in the name of nepotism, paddy-paddy and godfatherism.

          • ODOFIN, Lagos

            Obviously, you are unintelligently emotional without focusing on issues and you failed to read right meanings to my write-ups. I don’t join issue with type of people like you

  • trippi

    Arik International flights= A disaster waiting to happen.. Continue flying at your own risk..

  • danladi

    Arik, the most useless, carefree, irridentist airline to glorify our skies? they should just dig a big hole and bury themselves. Horrible airline, i prefer to walk, swim or crawl to my destination than use Arik

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  • sirjoka

    As much as you will like to patronize Nigerian airlines, stories like this don’t exactly encourage you to, but makes me shiver.