Air Peace passengers who raised safety concerns charged to court for unruly behaviour

Air Peace
Air Peace

At least three passengers abroad an Air Peace 6:30 p.m. flight to Abuja from Lagos on Monday were arrested and charged to court for alleged unruly behaviour and for obstructing the operations of the airline.

One of the arrested passengers, Oluwaseun Akinfolarin, told PREMIUM TIMES that trouble started after he pointed out to one of the hostesses on the flight during the routine safety drill that seats were blocking the aeroplane’s emergency exits.

“I told her that there was an obstruction on the emergency exits. Please explain why do we have seats there. She couldn’t give us an answer. When her colleague came, she shoved her aside and told her she should not bother explaining anything to us. Then there was an uproar among the passengers.”

He explained that the air hostess went in to inform the pilot of the aeroplane that passengers were being unruly. Subsequently, the pilot announced he was no longer going to fly.

Later the chairman of the airline, Allen Onyema arrived and insisted that the flight was cancelled and the passengers were ordered to disembark.

Mr. Akinfolarin and two others were then arrested and taken to a police station in the Ikeja area of Lagos. They were later granted bail and told to report the next morning, Tuesday.

When PREMIUM TIMES contacted Mr Akinfolarin, he said he and the two other passengers have been charged to court for unruly behaviour and stopping the operation of the airline. He explained he was driving in the company of a police officer to a court in the Ogba area of town.

Though he promised to text further details of his ordeal, nothing has been heard from him since then. He could no longer be reached on his mobile phone, as it has been switched off.

However, Air Peace in a statement signed by its corporate communication manager, Chris Iwara, said security officials of the Federal Airport Authority of Nigeria FAAN were invited after several appeals to the passengers fell on deaf ears.

He further explained that the seating arrangement on the aircraft was approved by both FAAN and the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority, NCAA.

The airline’s claim is, however, contentious as Part 8 of the Nigeria Civil Aviation Regulations, which deals with aircraft operations stated that “no person may allow carry-on baggage or other items to block access to the emergency exits when the aircraft is moving on the surface, during take-off or landing, or while passengers remain on board on the ground.”

Mr. Iwara further claimed that the flight was delayed for three hours as a result of the uproar.

“The passengers insisted that the aircraft was unsafe and would suffer the fate of one other domestic airline whose aircraft crashed some years ago. The unruly passengers prevented our crew from continuing with the safety briefing.

Understandably, other passengers on board the flight became apprehensive and insisted on the unruly passengers being taken off the flight, “he said.

“The pilot-in-command, therefore, had no choice than to request the unruly passengers to disembark. The passengers, however, refused to comply, leading to the captain of the flight calling for the intervention of FAAN security personnel. The passengers also refused to refrain from their disruptive conduct upon the intervention of FAAN security personnel.

“After about three hours delay, two of the disruptive passengers eventually agreed to disembark, while the lady among them was adamant. She only agreed to disembark upon other passengers’ intervention after delaying the flight for almost three hours in total.

“The three passengers were eventually taken in for interrogation by FAAN security personnel, who later transferred them to the police for further investigation,” the statement read.

“While we will continue to treat all our valued guests with the greatest respect and courtesy, we will never allow a tiny minority of customers jeopardise the safety and comfort of our customers and the overall safe operation of our flights. The unfortunate incident of Monday is now being addressed by the nation’s security agencies. We trust the security agencies to resolve the incident without bias,” the airline added.

When reached for comments about the incident and the approved seating arrangement on aircraft and whether it was right for seats to be placed in such a manner that they are obstructing emergency exits, the spokesperson of the NCAA, Sam Adurogboye, declined to comment explaining that since the matter had been charged to court, any statement by the agency may be cited for contempt.

He, however, suggested that the aggrieved parties may have explored the agency’s alternative dispute resolution opportunities.

“The NCAA consumer rights protection is meant to resolve issues amicably without recourse to the court,” he wrote in a text message.


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  • Ezekiel

    It’s ridiculous, blocking emergency exits.

  • born Great

    That was not first time of operation for that aircraft. The passengers should have sent a complaints to appropriate authorities, instead of their unruly behaviour. Unless they have an ulterior motives against the airline which can not be ruled out.

    • The Naked Truth

      Bro, you are saying as if you are not a Nigerian, if the passenger channel his complain to appropriate authorities, believe you me such complain will be sweep under the carpet. so it better it happened this way because i know the passenger in question will be victorious and heavy fine as well as compensation will be impose to Air peace.

    • West

      Senseless comment. So because that was not the first operation of the aircraft so anytime someone spots anomalies he should just ignore it. That explains the reason why life is so cheap in Nigeria. If you do not have any reasonable and meaniful contribution why not just keep your mouth shut.

      • born Great

        I think you are the senseless one, since you cannot be civil to report your concerns about a certain issues to appropriate authorities, and that’s why your country is filled with animals like hyenas and jackals, of which I know you are one. Must you fight and be unruly all the time for you to be heard?. However, I do see mischievous sentiment in your comments in defense of those scallywags, that has no business being on airplane.

        • Eze

          bros without any prejudices, you certainly seem not to be living in nigeria. the so called civil approach and reporting to the appropriate authority is why we are where we are today. i can assure you the airline, except otherwise met with popular campaign and equal might, will use all its resources to make sure those passengers are penalized in court. i know for sure their are many useless passengers who have no regards for safety rules, nor accord adequate respect to air hostesses because they think “customer is always right”, but i certainly believe this airline has no justification to block the emergency exit way no matter what.

      • Victor Daniel

        I second that. Thank you

    • Pawa2

      So if something has been done wrongly for a long time they should continue to do it that way? When do you want them to send their complaints to the so-called appropriate authorities? Is it after they have risked their lives on the flight? Why should a responsible airline not be able to respond in a straightforward way to concerns raised by passengers?

  • Iyoha I GABRIEL

    The passengers have every right to raise issues of safety. Nigeria is the only country were airlines think they are doing their customers a favour. They passengers should bring a civil suit against the airline. A full investigation must be carried out by the regulatory authorities.

  • Stanley

    Emergency exits and emergency equipment like the fire extinguishers are never to be obstructed even in work places, homes and offices least talk of air crafts. Safety briefing is useless in such circumstances. Air peace should withdraw the case, apologize to their customers and remove the hazards they have put in their emergency exits to maximize their revenue. No authority has power to approve obstruction of emergency exit.

  • Godswill

    Air Peace Crew members (Tega and Donald) misrepresented the matter to the pilot and the pilot took the matter too far without understanding the true situation. I was on board that flight. No form of apprehension, the flight was delayed for 2hrs courtesy of an old woman that refused getting down… The two male passengers never hesitated to get down.

    It is unfortunate that people could be treated like criminals when they raised concerns about issues that relates to their safety, even if they are not knowledgeable, the concerned people should inform them.

    Am disappointed at Air Peace and their management, they have got some unmannered flight attendants (Tega and Donald).

    Human right lawyers this is over to you.