Home / News / Africa / Boycott Ethiopian Airlines!, Sanction Togolese security officials who maltreated Nigerian travelers; Sue them all – Nigerians roar in anger
An Ethiopian Airlines jet

Boycott Ethiopian Airlines!, Sanction Togolese security officials who maltreated Nigerian travelers; Sue them all – Nigerians roar in anger

An Ethiopian Airlines jet

Nigerians have expressed anger over the ill-treatment of some of their compatriots at the Eyadema International Airport, Lome, Togo on Saturday, December 18, 2021, with some calling for strong sanctions against Ethiopian Airlines and Togolese security officials involved in the maltreatment of the hapless Nigerian travelers.

Passengers on an Ethiopian Airline flight from the United States of America (US) to Lagos had upon alighting at Lome to continue their trip to Lagos on a connecting flight been told that the flight was fully booked and that they were to stay overnight in Lome before continuing their journey the next day.

When some of the travelers protested the arrangement, they were manhandled with some of them being handcuffed and dragged on the floor while the telephones of all the passengers were ordered to be taken away from them by force.

It took the intervention of the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr. Geoffrey Onyeama who, from far away Turkey where he was part of President Muhammadu Buhari’s delegation on an official trip, alerted the Ambassador of Nigeria in Togo, Mr. Debo Adesina. The Ambassador rushed to the airport to arrest the ugly situation and thereafter, arranged a chartered aircraft that airlifted the stranded travelers to Lagos. They were said to have alighted in Lagos at about 12:20 AM on Sunday (WAT) when they should have been on ground at about 4:00 PM on Saturday.

While some angry Nigerians are calling for the commencement of immediate boycott of Ethiopian Airlines, the carrier whose action triggered off the crises, others want the Togolese security officials who manhandled the Nigerian travelers fished out and severely punished.

Some others insist that the affected passengers of the Ethiopian Airline flight who were so shabbily treated should immediately institute a class action suit against the airline and demand huge monetary compensation and apology from Ethiopian Airlines and the Ethiopian and Togolese governments for the ordeal that they went through.

But a top Nigerian diplomat in the US told GPNews that the maltreatment of the travelers, which he said is a slap on the face of Nigeria as a nation, was because the country has not been able to put its own airline in the air and has as well, refused to authorize a direct flight to any location in the country for Ethiopian Airlines which for now, has become a preferred airline for most Nigerian travelers from the US.

An incensed top executive of a multinational company who is based in Lagos said “I am so upset with the ill treatment of Nigerians in Lome. Lome of all the places in the world! How art the mighty fallen?”

The lady who flies often around the world said further: “I would also be interested to know why Ethiopian airlines would treat people who booked flights and bought tickets so shabbily. Enough is enough already!!”

She fumed further that “It’s about time we started demanding better service levels,” vowing that “personally, I will not buy tickets from any airline that will not fly into Nigeria under whatever guise.”

Ganiyu Dada, a concerned Chicago-based Nigerian American businessman, equally upset at the show of shame in Lome, said: “That is how low Nigeria is regarded as a country in the West African sub region. People with confirmed tickets from USA to Nigeria will be denied opportunity on the flight to Nigeria?

“Both Ethiopian Airlines and the Togolese Authorities should be dealt with by lawsuits! Those directly affected should not just accept apology from the governments of Ethiopia and Togo but substantial financial awards to teach them that they should not corruptly sell out their confirmed seats to others in Togo.”

Dada, who is also a former Chairman of the Nigerians in Diaspora Organisation, Americas (NIDOA) insisted that “those Togolese security officials who manhandled the Nigerian travelers must be dealt with for their unprofessional and barbaric behavior to their fellow Africans.”

Also reacting, Mazi Ogbonna, Founder, Mother Tongue Academy (MTA), New York, screamed in anger that “No Nigerian should buy Ethiopian Airlines tickets anymore, no one should accept their tickets, even when such is offered free of charge!!”

He said that “Until we start acting it, nobody will take us seriously. Imagine buying a flight ticket and being humiliated and handcuffed as a criminal!! That’s a ‘no no’ and Nigeria as a country must react to it in a way to hurt the bottom line of Ethiopian Airlines.

“To start with, the Airline must refund each passenger their airfares with a public written apology. At the same time there should be a class action lawsuit against the Airline and the Togolese Security officials involved in the ugly treatment of innocent passengers must be fished out and seriously punished,” he thundered.

The top Nigerian Diplomat, who said the Aviation authorities in Nigeria have some blame in the entire saga said that efforts had been made in the past to secure slots for direct flights for Ethiopian Airlines into Lagos, Abuja, Kano or Kaduna without success.

He recalled that during the evacuation of stranded Nigerians in the US from Newark Airport, New Jersey at the heat of the COVID-19 pandemic and the international lockdown that followed, “this same Ethiopian Airlines had operated six direct flights into Lagos and Abuja and there had been no problems whatsoever,” pointing out that a direct flight from Newark International Airport into any location in Nigeria would have eliminated any such hiccups as was experienced on Saturday.

He said that Nigerian officials in the US had argued in support of the establishment of direct and regular air transportation services between the US and Nigeria to be operated by Ethiopian Airlines but that their recommendation was not favorably considered by Nigerian aviation authorities.

The diplomat noted that Nigerian officials in the US had pointed out the advantages of direct flights to Nigeria from the US by Ethiopian Airways, including comfort and convenience of passengers, time and cost benefits, ease of luggage handling and elimination of long stop-over flights in different locations before reaching Nigeria.

Given the outlined benefits, they had recommended negotiations with the Airline’s officials for such flights, especially given the high volume of passengers on the route but Nigerian Aviation Ministry officials had rebuffed the move.

The result, he said, is the shabby treatment that was meted out to Nigerian nationals in Lome, Togo on Saturday.

Chairman/CEO of Nigerians in Diaspora Commission (NiDCOM), Hon. Abike Dabiri-Erewa, when contacted on the treatment meted out to the Nigerian travelers in Lome was equally upset and confirmed that the Nigerian Ambassador to Togo, Mr. Adesina had commenced immediate investigation into the matter.

It is expected that the outcome of the investigation would determine the next course of action for Nigeria as a country but those who spoke to GPNews insist that irrespective of notwithstandingNigeria’s reaction as a country, those directly involved still had a right to seek reliefs for the ordeal they suffered in the hands of Ethiopian Airlines and the Togolese security officials.

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