The Association of Lawyers with Disabilities in Nigeria (ALDIN) has condemned the discriminatory conduct of DANA Air against a person with Disability, Dr. Chike Okogwu and the continued denial of the discriminatory act meted against him.
ALDIN in a press statement signed by Yusuf Iyodo, Director, Media and Publicity, disclosed that there is no justification to support the actions of Dana Air towards Dr. Chike as they are discriminatory.
“The facts and evidence available to ALDIN is that Dr. Chike Okogwu had been checked-in for a 7:20pm flight from Abuja to Lagos on December 20, 2020 which was rescheduled by Dana Air to 9:05pm.
“At the time of Boarding, Dr. Chike Okogwu was told that he could not travel along with the others because he was a wheelchair user. Note that there was no previous warning to this shocking turn of event.
“It was Dana Air that rescheduled the flight of Dr. Chike Okogwu to night and then again turned around to say they cannot fly him at night because he was a special person – the airline is precluded from approbating and reprobating at the same time. The intentional discriminatory measures and breach of contract against passengers with disabilities by DANA Air is manifestly reprehensible.”
Noting that the incident is not the first where Dana Air would be discriminating against a PWD, ALDIN said, “Dr. Chike Okogwu is not alone in the quagmire of this sort of inhuman treatment meted by Dana Air against passengers with disabilities. The ALDIN is in receipt of complaints from other members of the disability community about how the airline metes discriminatory guidelines, policies and treatment against them.”
The association therefore “condemned in strongest terms the deliberate abuse of the rights of Dr. Chike Okogwu and other persons with disabilities, by Dana Air. We submit that the conduct of Dana Air is unlawful, inhuman and culpable. Dana Air’s penchant for discriminatory policies against passengers with disabilities is against the relevant provisions of the “Discrimination Against Persons with Disabilities (Prohibition) Act of 2018, specifically, Section 1(1) states that; ‘A person with disability shall not be discriminated against on the ground of his disability by any person or institution in any manner or circumstance.’
ALDIN also quoted Section 14 of the law which states that, “All airlines operating in Nigeria shall, ‘ensure the accessibility of their aircraft to persons with disabilities; make available presentable and functional wheelchairs for the conveyance of persons with disabilities who need them to and from the aircraft; ensure that persons with disabilities are assisted to get on and off board in safety and reasonable comfort; and ensure that persons with disabilities are accorded priority while boarding and disembarking from the aircraft.”
ALDIN thereafter noted that, “it is clear that DANA Air’s repugnant and careless policy to the effect that a passenger with disabilities cannot fly alone but in company of an aide, and also that he cannot fly at night is against the spirit and letter of the law cited above.
“A passenger with disabilities only possesses infirmity and not disease or sickness. Passengers with disabilities are able to travel at any time they so desire and are by law entitled to assistive and protective devices to do so, not preclusion.
“We will not stop short of being moved emotionally by the harrowing and abusive treatment of Dana Air on our people but are resolved to do anything possible within the ambit of the law to seek justice for our members.
“Accordingly, we call on Dana Air to immediately tender an apology to Dr. Chike Okogwu and all other persons with disabilities they have wronged; make appropriate reparation for their wrongdoing, and change forthwith, all discriminatory policies against persons with disabilities.”
ALDIN noted that it has received several complaints from within the association and the general community of persons with disabilities continuous abuse of their rights despite the law and Dana Air in particular has been the frequent culprit.
“Within the space of two weeks, the social media has been replete with agonizing stories of passengers with disabilities; they have told their stories of abuse of their rights with airline operators. There must be a stop to it,” it added.
ALDIN disclosed its readiness to “pursue a legal cause of action should DANA Air fail to redress all the wrong and conduct its business in a lawful and non-discriminatory manner.”