1 January 2009

Nigeria: ADC Airline Owners Face Arrest

Lagos — The Federal Government may order the arrest of owners of ADC Airlines over their non-payment of compensation to families of victims of the crash of its airliner in Abuja on October 29, 2006.

The former Sultan of Sokoto, Mohammadu Maccido, Senators Yari Gandi and Maccido were among the 96 passengers that perished in the crash.

Director-General of the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA), Dr. Harold Demuren, who dropped the hint at a forum with newsmen in Lagos, yesterday, said the matter relating to the non-payment of compensation in the event of a crash was a police matter and not that of the NCAA.

According to him, the NCAA has tried everything possible to make the airline pay the families the mandatory $100,000 per family, but to no avail.

"Like my colleague in Canada pointed out to me recently, the issue of airlines not paying compensation is a police and legal matter and not that of the NCAA. While we have made a meaningful headway with Sosoliso, we have achieved nothing with ADC Airlines. The police might be brought into the matter, if that is what will make the airline pay.

"In spite of this, owners of the airline are saying we have prevented them from resuming flight operations. But they will never fly unless they pay," said Demuren, who lamented the fact that families of victims of that crash were yet to be paid two years after.

On Sosoliso, Dr. Demuren said the NCAA had made some headway as far as payment of compensation was concerned.

He said owners of the airline had already deposited in an escrow account some $2.3 million to facilitate payment.

The NCAA, Demuren added, was also working with the Justice Ministry to ensure that all issues relating to the payment were resolved to pave the way for disbursement to the families, who are entitled to $100,000 each.

He said the agency was also in touch with some of the families, adding that as soon as all the loose ends were tidied up, they would be disbursed the money.

The NCAA boss said the agency was equally working on a plan to increase ticket sales tax in the new year, with a view to establishing a pool of funds for payment of compensation by government to families of crash victims in future, pending when affected airlines are able to pay.

According to him, the addition to the ticket sales tax will be kept in a dedicated account for disbursement by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and the National Insurance Commission (NAICOM) and would be a non-default insurance scheme.

Demuren said this remained the only way delay suffered by families of crash victims in payment of compensation could be addressed, but was also quick to mention that the compensation by government does not preclude airlines from paying the mandatory $100,000 as required by law.

He appealed to families of victims of the Sosoliso crash, especially those of students of Loyola Jesuit College, Abuja, who died in the crash, for the delay in payment of the compensation.

The Sosoliso MD-83 plane crashed December 10, 2005, at the Port Harcourt International Airport, killing all but one of its 110 passengers and crew on board.

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