Tempers flared on Tuesday as some victims of Dana Air plane crash of June 3 in Iju-Isaga area of Lagos, rejected the N200,000 cheque offered each of them by the airline.
Although not all the victims were present at the Ayobo relief camp, the majority who turned up rejected the cheques on the grounds that the amount was ridiculous.
Officials of Dana had insisted that the money was not a compensation, but meant to ease the problem of accommodation of victims, whose apartments were destroyed.
A victim, Daniel Omowunmi, whose duplex, warehouse and vehicle were destroyed at the crash site, directed his anger at the airline officials, saying “this is a crooked move. It is rubbish.”
His own cheque was for the sum of N500, 000 because of the magnitude of his loss.
Omowunmi, a pastor, said, “The way you are doing this is crooked and unacceptable. For your information, I was living in a duplex before and I cannot get a duplex for N500, 000 in Lagos.
“So, what is the money you are offering me for? As I am talking to you, my aged mother is still in the hospital because of the incident. This is an insult to us.”
A lawyer, Mr. Gbenga Odetola, who said he was representing about 20 of the victims, declined the offer on behalf of his clients.
Odetola said the categorisation made, according to how the victims were affected, by the Lagos State Emergency Management Agency, was not enough to take care of the problem.
He said, “We are questioning the parameters for the catergorisation. What of those victims whose properties were vandalised by street urchins and looters? The list of the victims is not exhaustive at all.
“Apart from that, we wrote Dana a letter, they did not reply. Instead, they decided to call my clients to come for cheques.”
But LASEMA General Manager, Dr. Olufemi Oke-Osanyintolu, whose agency coordinated the programme, said the categorisation was done by his office according to international standards.
He said it did not affect any legal step the victims might want to take.
Oke-Osanyintolu said, “LASEMA came into the issue because our concern was not just about disaster management but also rehabilitation of victims.
“This list is just the first step, focusing on the occupants of the building in the impact zone.”
The list LASEMA compiled after its assessment contained names under the categorisation; severely affected, moderately affected and mildly affected.
The airlines’ Head of Corporate Communication, Mr. Tony Usidame, said, “We are doing this to let the victims know that they are not alone at this critical time.
“When the time of compensation comes, we will duly take care of them. But right now, we are doing this as a first step towards easing the accommodation problems the victims are facing.
“We quite understand that many of them feel strongly about what we are giving them today. We understand and respect their choices.”
However, when the officials wanted to leave the camp, a drama ensued when a victim, Adebayo Bidemi, whose lawyer, Odetola, had earlier rejected the cheque on her behalf, ran after them to get her cheque.
Bidemi said the situation was not clearly explained to her before.
“Please I need my cheque. They did not explain all the details about the money to me before. I got my accommodation through my own sweat. I think I have the right to change my mind,” she said.
Some of the victims, who collected the cheques, Odika Daniel and Emeka Okafor, said they collected theirs because they were making arrangement for accommodation.
Both of them said they were living temporarily with friends but would be waiting for more compensation as they lost all their properties in the crash.