Dana plane crash: Owner of destroyed buildings drags airline to court …seeks N540m damages

By The Citizen

An aggrieved victim of the June 3, 2012 Dana Airline plane crash at Iju Ishaga, Lagos, Pastor Omawunmi Daniel, and his business venture, Thursmay Educational Service Limited, have filed a N540 million suit against the airline.

Other defendants in the suit are the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) and Prestige Assurance Plc.

In a statement of claims filed before a Federal High Court in Lagos by a Lagos-based lawyer, Mr. Dele Adeshina, SAN, on behalf of the plaintiff, Pastor Omawunmi averred that he is the owner of the four plots of land situated at 8/10, Popoola Olaniyi Street, Iju Ishaga, Lagos.

He also said that that on June 3, 2012 at exactly 3.45 p.m., Dana Airline Model MD Douglas MJ83 aircraft crashed into his property and destroyed all his buildings and structures, including the personal belonging of his entire family, fish ponds, warehouses, furniture workshops and warehouse belonging to his company and Mrs. Nike Odunpitan.

He averred that his house is not close to an airport, and as such, the plane's crash onto his property was sudden, shocking and devastating and same could not have been imagined or contemplated.

He demanded the sum of N172,530,960 from the defendant. But Dana Airline offered him N74,417,429. Therefore, the two figures were harmonised and reviewed down to N97,300,777.

Daniel, however, said he was paid $30,000 as cost of resettlement for himself and family, apart from the fact that he lost some finishing goods, books and doors.

Therefore, the plaintiff averred that regrettably, the conduct of the airline and Prestige Assurance in the course of the settlement negotiations had been oppressive, inhuman and nonchalant, in total disregard for their suffering.

The plaintiff also alleged that he wrote to NCAA to prevail on Dana Airline to speedily consider and settle the claim. Similar letters were written to the Nigerian President, the Senate President, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, the Minister of Aviation, the Attorney-General of the Federation, the Inspector General of Police, the National Human Rights Commission, the Lagos State Governor and the Attorney-General of Lagos State, but Dana Airline and Prestige Assurance declined to grant the plaintiff's claims.

Consequently, the plaintiff is claiming the following against the defendants: N207,507,608 against Dana Airline and Prestige Assurance for the loss of their properties and income; N50 million for the damages suffered by Pastor Omawunmi; N234,097,500 being the cost of the property destroyed by the aircraft; N28 million being the loan obtained by his company, payment of N2 million every month being interest of the loan and N50 million as general damages.

Dana Airline is yet to file any defence. NCAA in its defence before the court by Barrister Bekun Sowole averred that at the time of the crash, the airworthiness clearance issued to Dana Airline was valid.