Dana crash: Families of foreign, Nigerian victims sue airline. Court admits Dana Air affidavit seeking to stop coroner’s proceedings

INDICATIONS have emerged that families of foreigners and Nigerians involved in the Dana Air crash of June 3, at the Iju-Ishaga area of Lagos may have sued the airline in their various home countries for negligence.

The development came even as it has been discovered that none of the 153 passengers who died in the crash had a written will.
The airline is expected to, at least, pay the sum of $350 million as compensation to the families.

The Director-General, Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA), Dr Harold Demuren, and the Deputy Commissioner, Technical, National Insurance Commission (NAICOM), Mr Ibrahim Hassan, dropped this hint at a briefing on Thursday._–

According to Demuren, some of the foreigners, including some Nigerians had gone to court to press charges against the airline, stressing that until that was settled, the families could not be compensated even as he could not comment on what the outcome of the litigation would be.

Demuren who on the occasion insisted that the aircraft was adequately insured as of the time of the crash, added that there was enough funds on the ground to pay the families, even as he decried that money could not assuage the feelings of those who lost their loved ones in the crash.

He explained that only 62 families had been paid so far due t the stringent measures involved in assessing the funds, just as he said that there were multiple claims from some family members.

He said: “The aircraft was adequately covered by insurance and I can tell you that the whole money for the settlement of the families according to the law is on the ground, but we have to say it here that money cannot replace lives because so many people have lost their loved ones. Money is the smallest thing and the law is very clear on compensation.

“We had to do a lot of DNA tests to know who to pay to in case of multiple claims. It is very important for us to move forward. That was why we called Dana management, NAICOM and representatives of Lloyds Insurance Company.”

“The compensations of those people who lost their lives and properties on grounding have not even commenced. We should not sensationalise the issue, but be responsible. However, I can assure you that all the issues would be settled.”

Meanwhile, Justice Abang Okon of a Federal High Court in Lagos, on Thursday, admitted an affidavit by Dana Air in support of the request by a Non-Governmental Organisation (NGO), Civil Aviation Round Table Initiative, to stop the proceedings of a Lagos State coroner court over the crash of one its planes in the state on June 3, 2012.

The judge, while admitting the affidavit, overruled the claim by the state’s counsel, Akinjide Bakare, that the rules of the court only permitted a defendant to file a counter-affidavit to a plaintiff’s motion on notice and not an affidavit in support like the one filed by Dana Air.

The judge, in his ruling on the issue, said the point raised was a novel one and that the rules did not contemplate a situation where parties joined as defendants have divergent interests.

According to Justice Abang, “though no provisions in the rules permit a defendant to file an affidavit in support of a plaintiff’s motion, but if relying on it will do justice in the matter, I don’t think it is wrong.”

The judge noted that the issue to consider is if the interest of the first to fourth defendants will be prejudiced, saying they are at liberty to file their objection to the affidavit.

Bakare had initially raised an objection to the affidavit on the grounds that it was filed out of time based on the provisions of Order 25 Rule 6 of the Federal High Court Civil Procedure Rules.

However, counsel for Dana Air, Chief Bolaji Ayorinde(SAN), was of the opinion that the provisions of the rules referred to by Bakare only applied to a counter-affidavit.

He said his filing was not strange, adding that the purport of this affidavit was to support the necessity for an interlocutory injunction pending the hearing of the substantive originating summons.

Counsel for the plaintiffs, Dr Joseph Nwobike (SAN), also supported Dana Air’s position.


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