Displaced victims ignore lawyer, take Dana’s money
Some of the 38 displaced victims of the buildings that were affected in the Dana plane crash of June 3 in Iju-Ishaga have rejected cheques issued them by the airline as interim compensation.
Four of the victims caused a stir at the Ipaja Relief Camp, venue of the cheque presentation meeting, when they refused to take the cheques presented to them by Oscar Watson, Dana’s Director of Flight Operations.
The airline’s spokesperson, Tony Usidame, had said at the meeting that the cheques, for sums ranging from N100,000 to N500,000, were an interim compensation to provide succour for the victims.
He said that the airline, through its insurance company, would soon provide comprehensive compensations for occupants of the two buildings destroyed by the plane.
However, Gbenga Eguntola, a lawyer and aviation consultant, who led the four displaced persons to the meeting, said they acted on his advice by refusing to collect the cheques.
Eguntola said what Dana Air offered the victims were very insignificant. “As I am speaking with you, I have about 10 clients that have no roof over their heads,” he said. “That means if they are asked to leave the camp provided for them by the state government, they have no place to go.
What we are saying is that Dana has to take responsibility; they cannot pretend not to know that they are supposed to compensate for the dead and also those whose homes were destroyed by the crash. So this idea of coming to give the victims peanuts is not acceptable to us. We want them to follow the normal procedure and give the victims full compensation. This is nothing but a jamboree.”
However, a mild-drama later ensued after the meeting when Abidemi Adebayo and Sepaye Hezekiah, two of the victims who had earlier rejected their cheques, abandoned Eguntola and demanded for the money from Dana officials.
The company officials arranged a short presentation ceremony and handed them their money.
“Yes, Eguntola is my lawyer but I do not need his services anymore,” said Adebayo. “Initially, I agreed with him to speak for me but I changed my mind later because I felt I needed money. Right now, I don’t have a place I am staying. I am tired of squatting with friends. The lawyer never paid my rents for me in the first place. I think I need my money.”
Hezekiah, a student of the Osun State Polytechnic,Esa-Oke, and a former resident of 7 Olaniyi Street, Iju-Ishaga, said that he changed his mind because he needed money to go back to school. “I want to go back to school,” he said. “I don’t want to comment on the lawyer. I agreed with him to stand for me initially but now I have changed my mind. I need money.”
Daniel Idika, one of the victims who collected a cheque at the meeting, commended the airline for being compassionate to their woes, adding that he trusts the carrier to ensure that they get their full compensation.
“Dana has said this is just a palliative, that full compensation is still coming,” he said. “I believe them, that was why I never rejected the cheque in the first place. Even though the N200,000 they have offered me is not enough to get a new apartment, I think it`s better than nothing. I need an accommodation fast and I think this will help.”
Femi-Oke Osanyintolu, the General Manager of the Lagos State Emergency Management Agency, who coordinated the meeting, said the government would continue to work with Dana to provide more reliefs for the displaced persons