FAAN Officials allegedly harassed Youth Corp members for protesting delayed flight
Some officials of the Federal Airport Authority of Nigeria at the Yola Airport, Adamawa State, have gone tough on two corps members, Olugbenga Aluko and Taylor Odeje for protesting against alleged delay in their flight.
Two Aviation Security (ASIEC) officials, one of whom was identified as Amos Balanga, reportedly dragged Odeje on the tarmac and smashed the screen of Aluko’s phone when he tried to capture the assault.
The Batch B, Stream 2 corps members had completed a three-week orientation of the National Youth Service Corps scheme at the Adamawa State orientation camp on Monday.
PUNCH Metro learnt that the victims and a female corps member had gone to the airport on Tuesday to board a Medview flight on the way to their destinations in Lagos and Abuja.
It was gathered that the flight was scheduled to take off by 12.15pm on Tuesday, but was delayed by about three hours.
Aluko, who spoke with our correspondent on the telephone, said trouble started when the plane was about leaving the tarmac around 3pm without lifting him and his colleagues.
He said, “I had booked at Medview Airline office a week earlier. The flight was supposed to take off at 12.15pm on Tuesday, but it was delayed for three hours. Eventually, the three of us and others queued under the sun for about 45 minutes. We were about to board when the door of the plane was closed; probably because it was overbooked, but nobody gave us any explanation.
“Taylor (Odeje) insisted that the plane would not move and he lay in front of it. Some security officials dragged him on the tarmac. As I brought out my phone to capture the assault, one of them, Mr. Amos Balanga, pounced on me. He collected my phone and damaged it. I saw his name before he removed the name tag on his uniform.
“We were led to the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority office at the airport and we filled a form to report the incident. We left Yola at 11.15am today (Wednesday).”
Odeje said he expected the airline to offer them a reason why they were not allowed to board. He stated that he perceived the action of the airline as derogatory and uncivil, making him to resort to the protest.
He said, “We tried boarding the plane but it was overbooked. The door of the plane was suddenly shut. Instead of the airline to talk to us about how we could be accommodated in a hotel, they did not tell us anything. I said we should not be treated like this and protested peacefully.
“I went to the front of the plane. Security officials dragged me on the ground. I told them that they were supposed to dialogue with me and not treat me like a criminal for a service I paid for. My shoes were destroyed; my clothes were torn. I cried at a point because I was sad.”
Odeje added that an official of the airline eventually took them to a hotel and paid, while the corps members paid for their feeding.
The Terminal Head of Yola Airport and Principal Officer, Consumer Protection NCAA, Adonmma Achichi, who confirmed the incident, said he prevailed on the airline to provide accommodation for the corps members.
Achichi stated that investigations had commenced into the matter and promised that the officials would be brought to book.
He said, “The so called security man is an official of ASEC, an arm of FAAN. The corps members have lodged their complaints and we are following the normal procedure.
“I learnt that one of the corps members (Aluko) was taking pictures at a restricted area in the airport.
“Taylor (Odeje) went to the front of the plane when they closed its door. When I arrived at the tarmac, I urged him to leave and took him to the terminal building. I told him that he should have reported at the NCAA and allow us to take actions.
“I asked the Medview Airline management to provide accommodation for the three of them and they were taken to a hotel. The management brought them back to the airport today (Wednesday).
“I will channel the report to the NCAA regional manager in Abuja to see to the ASEC officials. If they are found wanting, they will definitely pay for Aluko’s phone.”