BA Lies Grounded (By Respect Nigerians Coalition)

Written by Respect Nigerians Coalition

Ladies and Gentlemen of the Press, on May 1, 2008, British Airways issued a Statement supposedly in defence of the action it took on March 27, 2008 over what it considers to be the unacceptable conduct of its Nigerian customers aboard the BA75 flight from London Heathrow to Lagos. Ordinarily, making such a statement should have been accepted as a responsible approach to dealing with the issues at stake, except that the Statement is far from responsible. Worse still, it is a wicked insult on the integrity of its fare-paying Nigerian customers.

When people who run an airline of the calibre of British Airways make the peddling of lies against customers an instrument of corporate policy, they not only demean themselves and the otherwise great institution they represent, they also abuse the trust of society. It is therefore incumbent upon decent people everywhere to expose them for what they are – little-minded people invested in prejudice and suffocating folly.

The British Airways Statement began by saying they “regret the upset that the events onboard the BA75 to Lagos on 27th March have caused in Nigeria”, yet the very next statements that followed this indicate that the last thing they’re feeling is regret. They repeatedly state that “the decision to offload passengers was made in consultation with and on the advice of the UK police, and the sole aim of this decision was to ensure the safety of our passengers, aircraft and crew”. But if this indeed was the case, why were these same passengers thoughtlessly offloaded from the plane just because a few of them dared protest the unjust treatment meted out to one of them? Was this the best course of action in the circumstances, considering that BA precipitated the protest by inviting the police and making false statements to them about Mr Ayodeji Omotade who was subsequently manhandled, arrested, stopped from travelling for his brother’s wedding, banned, had his money confiscated and his luggage damaged and held up for over a week?

However, the worst of BA’s lies was the claim that their crew were subjected to physical assault. It is instructive that throughout the coverage of this affair in the British media, BA had ample opportunity to state this (if it was indeed the case), but never did. Of course, they never did, because it never happened! The police who attended the scene never received a report to this effect and never took any statement from any member of staff supposedly physically assaulted. The police arrested only one man, Mr Ayodeji Omotade and his arrest was not based on assault of anybody. He was arrested on the presumptive ground of affray, but up till now, over two months after, he’s yet to be charged for any offence. Yet, curiously, after over a month, BA suddenly realized that their staff had been physically assaulted and felt convinced enough about this to make it into a press statement in faraway Nigeria a day after the ultimatum given to them by our organization, Respect Nigerians Coalition (RNC) expired!

BA obviously sought to undercut our resolve to make the airline see the benefit of being a good corporate citizen by cooking up this terrible lie! How was it possible that in a place supposedly under “very serious” disturbance by passengers and which needed about twenty to twenty-five police officers to restore peace only one man was arrested? How was it possible that in an enclosure like a plane, with cameras, crew and security operatives watching, only one man was arrested and not for physical assault on anybody? We have challenged British Airways in a face to face meeting with its Executives (which included Mr Adrian Mcloy, the BA Country Representative) at their Lagos headquarters to name the member(s) of staff supposed to have been physically assaulted, but they couldn’t!

We also want to use this opportunity to correct certain erroneous impressions presently making the rounds in the public space. The first concerns the idea that British Airways had made an apology to Nigerians. This apparently emanated from the report in the Nigerian Punch newspaper of Friday, 2 May, 2008 which carried the story of their press release titled “British Airways regrets the maltreatment of Nigerians“. We are hereby attaching a copy of that press release to let you see that there was nothing indicating an apology anywhere in that Statement. The fact that they claim to express regret does not indicate they’ve apologized. As shown above, the Statement is an exercise in contradiction, obfuscation, subterfuge and outright fabrication. It is indeed an insult on the collective intelligence of Nigerians! However, we note that even in criticizing British Airways, the Nigerian Attorney General and Minister of Justice, Chief Michael Aondoakaa accepted this erroneous impression that the British Airways has apologized. They haven’t and we need to clarify this.

Secondly, we note the intervention of the British High Commissioner, Mr Robert Dewar. The Nigerian Guardian newspaper of Wednesday, June 4, 2008 reported him as apologizing to the Federal Government of Nigeria over the incident in question when he paid a courtesy visit to the Nigerian Minister of Information and Communications, Mr John Odey. We find this a curious diversion, not only because we have no issue with the British government, but also because Mr Dewar only went on to restate the lies peddled by the airlines in the guise of apology! At any rate, we do not think the issue concerns the British government. British Airways may be a British company, but it’s not owned by the British government. It is owned by shareholders, some of whom are Nigerians. We assume that all of these shareholders have a social conscience and would not want to be associated with a company steeped in discriminatory and racist practices – a company too vain to apologize for a wrong inflicted on its Nigerian customers.

Crucially, we want to use this opportunity to thank millions of Nigerians and well-wishers who have heeded our call to boycott British Airways goods and services since Thursday, May 15, 2008. They have made us very proud and strengthened our belief in the rightness of our action. The feelers we are getting right now are that British Airways is being hit by the action and they are running from pillar to post seeking ways to stop the bleeding. Of course, they know what to do based on our five demands; but they wouldn’t do so, because it is not in their nature to apologize to Nigerians, even though they’ve done so in the past when it concerns other people. We are deepening this campaign with more actions. At this point we can only ask people to continue supporting these actions once they’re announced. You can always get information on details of the campaign from and, two flagship websites that we employ for this campaign. Please, watch this space, because we are not giving up until BA does what is right by Nigerians and our common humanity.

Finally, we thank you, the Press. We thank you for your unstinting support throughout this campaign. Without you, Nigerians and well-wishers would not have been able to heed this call. Without you they wouldn’t have been able to understand the issues. Without you we wouldn’t be here. Without you British Airways would have ran roughshod over us with their well-oiled public relations machine, silencing the voice of a nation and all decent people worldwide. You know what this fight is about. You know it is not just about Ayodeji Omotade and the 135 passengers on that flight. You know it is about human dignity and national respect.

Please, keep the flag flying! We appreciate all you do. You make us proud, very proud!


Tosin Awotesu
Ebi Bozimo
Ishola Taiwo

(For and on behalf of Respect Nigerians Coalition)

Bloggers Unite for Human Rights As Nigerians Boycott British Airways

Adeola Aderounmu, May 15 2008.

Bloggers from around the world are focusing on Human Rights today May 15th.

Bloggers Unite For Human Rights

Bloggers Unite for Human Rights

This day also coincide with the start of the TOTAL BOYCOTT of British Airways Flights/ Services by thousands of Nigerians from around the world.

BA does not respect Nigerians.

BA maltreats Nigerian passengers.

British Airways recently mis-use the power of the British Police to evict more than 130 Nigerians from a Lagos bound flight.

Read about the entire story HERE


Adeola Aderounmu.

Boycott British Airways. We can do with one “less” airline. Nigerians are very respectful and hardworking people and they deserve to be respected.

British Airways does not respect Nigerians. Join this campaign and co-opt everyone that you know. BA makes a “hell” of money from Nigerians, they should learn to respect Nigerians.


British Airways and Nigerian Passengers (The Guardian Editorial)

The Guardian Editorial 9th May 2008.

LINK: British Airways and Nigerian Passengers

THE British Airways’ decision to evict over 100 Nigerian passengers from a Lagos-bound flight from London on March 27 is understandably causing a furore, and appropriately, the contempt and arrogance displayed by the management of the airline has been condemned by aggrieved Nigerians. The circumstances surrounding the incident were embarrassing and the response of the airline was somewhat high-handed. In this regard, we fully endorse President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua’s displeasure, and his directive that the incident should be investigated.

On March 27, Nigerians aboard a Lagos-bound British Airways flight from London, had reportedly protested the maltreatment of one of their compatriots who was being deported and was on the same flight. The miffed passengers, including one Ayodeji Omotade, who had served as spokesperson, were later ordered out of the plane. The British Airways in a press statement says it had to “offload the passengers”… in consultation with, and on the advice of the United Kingdom (UK) Police…”

And the reason for this decision, classified as “a rare occurrence,” was “to ensure the safety of our passengers, aircraft and crew”. British Airways justifies its reaction on the ground that its crew members “were subjected to verbal abuse and physical assault”. Mr. Omotade who was reportedly singled out had his luggage seized for days, he was banned from flying British Airways “for life”; he was arrested by the police and was later arraigned in court.

Since the incident occurred, on March 27, British Airways in the face of rising public outrage and criticism, maintained a disdainful silence until May 2, when it issued a press statement, through a media consultant. This official response arrived more than a month late, and over a week after both President Umaru Yar’Adua and the Director-General of the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority, Harold Demuren had both expressed serious concerns.

The president, even from his sick bed, had reportedly directed the Minister of State for Transportation (Aviation) Mr. Felix Hyatt to investigate the incident, stressing that ‘under no circumstance will his administration tolerate the subjection of Nigerian passengers to less than acceptable international standards of treatment”.

Government’s response was not swift enough, but it was well-advised. The Federal Ministry of Foreign Affairs has since held meetings with the British High Commissioner over the matter. We share the view that the Nigerian government should be ready always, to defend the rights of Nigerians and to seek explanations as it is doing. Airlines seem to have developed a habit of treating Nigerian passengers shabbily.

Besides the President’s directive, Nigerians in Diaspora have been collecting protest signatures against British Airways, there is also a widespread campaign on the internet involving Nigerians who want the airlines sanctioned. A UK-based non-governmental organisation, Africans United Against Child Abuse (AFRUCA) has decided to deny British Airways its patronage, in addition to encouraging its business partners to do the same. The levity with which British Airways has so far handled this matter is most strange, certainly it violates the ethics of community relations in business. The NCAA had demanded that within three days, i.e. by Monday, April 28, the airline should indicate a plan to compensate the passengers. Has it complied? Possibly not, for the matter was ignored in its press statement.

British Airways makes brisk business on its Nigeria-UK routes, (some would even say it is its most lucrative); it would have been wiser to handle this incident with greater sensitivity. But the airline is not alone in its alleged mistreatment of Nigerian passengers, even if what happened on March 27 was an isolated case. Recently, in Lagos, Delta Airlines reportedly ordered some of its passengers to disembark at the Murtala Muhammed International Airport for reasons that are still the subject of controversy between the airline and the concerned passengers. It is, however, quite possible that some passengers on the British Airways flight in question had over-reacted in seeking to protect their compatriot who was being deported. Some of our compatriots tend to be too dramatic in asserting their rights, and in many situations abroad, this has been the catalyst for undeserved humiliation.

Nonetheless, their rights to freely express themselves should not have been undermined to the extent of treating them with such disrespect. It is just as well that Omotade has taken his case to court. Persons who are similarly aggrieved may seek legal redress.

This incident occurred in March. Why is it that, but for President Yar’Adua’s recent directive, neither the Nigerian High Commission in the UK nor the Ministry in charge of aviation noticed or commented on it? Obviously, some persons had failed in their duty to Nigeria and her citizens.

When all is said and done, the incident should provide British Airways an opportunity to review its customer relations/communications processes and seek to make amends where necessary.

4 717 Nigerians sign Petition Against British Airways

By Adeola Aderounmu.

It is very certain now that BA has definitely lost some customers. 3, 916 Nigerians have signed the petition at The Nigerian Village Square

Not everyone of these people fly BA but add these numbers to families, friends and relations, the message is clear-BA MUST APOLOGISE.

That useless and worthless message released in Nigeria by “somebody” is rubbish. That is not an apology. That one is Absolute nonsense. It’s not worth this page, lai lai!!!