11 out the 125 families of the victims of the Dana Air crash have received the full compensation of $100,000 almost one year after the tragic incident in Lagos. The $100,000 compensation for air crash victims is mandated by the International Air Transport Association, IATA. The crash occurred on June 3, 2012, in the Iju-Isha-passengers and crew members as well as 10 people on the ground.
This is just as 65 of the bereaved families, including Nigerians and foreigners, have instituted legal action against the airline for perceived negligence over the crash. Eight families were yet to show up for claims. These were revealed yesterday in Lagos, by Dana Air spokesman, Mr. Tony Usidamen, while briefing journalists on the steps taken by the airline on payment of compensation to the affected families.
It will be recalled that 153 passengers and crew members died in the accident while about 10 persons lost their lives on ground with colossal damages to properties.
Usidamen also explained that as at Friday, 95 of the 125 families had received the initial payment of $30,000, adding that 21 of the families had just submitted documents from the Probate Registry to enable them claim full compensation. He said that when the 21 families received the final payment of $100,000, the total number of families fully compensated would rise to 32.
The spokesman added that payment of full compensation to the families had been delayed due to late submission of documents, multiple entries from relatives and internal wrangling among the families. He, however, assured that the airline would ensure that those who had submitted documents were fully paid.
On the ground victims, Usidamen said that nine families were affected out of which seven had been given partial settlement while others two refused to collect the initial payment.
He stressed that Pastor Daniel Omowunmi, whose properties were destroyed and had demanded N500m compensation had also received initial payment of $30,000, adding that the airline and its insurance companies were still negotiating with the pastor.
He said: “The process of compensation is being handled by our insurance companies and as a responsible organisation; we need to get updates from our insurance companies. Negotiations are ongoing with the victims. The claims are completed and sent to our insurers who will appoint a valuer to evaluate the properties on ground before the accident.
“Unlike in the case of the victims onboard, which is spelt out by ICAO, ground victims have no clear cut on compensation. But all the victims will be compensated to the extent of their losses. The allegation that we’ve abandoned the ground families is not true, negotiations are going on, but agreement has not been reached.” However, one of the major ground victims,, Pastor Daniel Omowunmi denied collecting any amount of money from the airline as a compensation.
He explained that the $30,000 (about N4.5m) received from Dana about three months ago through his lawyer was to settle his accommodation problem. He insisted that he would continually press for his right, but refused to disclose his plans.
He said, “I did not receive any form of compensation from the airline. The $30,000 they are claiming to have paid me, was for my accommodation. Was I living on trees before the crash? My total claim from the airline is N500m, which serve as the value of my building, the furniture office and other items destroyed with the crash. “I’ve told them that I will continually be after them. What I will do, I won’t disclose it to the public, but I will ensure that I get whatever is due to me.
They have recommenced their operations since then, but they denied me the means of my livelihood.” Also, another victim of the crash, Mr. James Ognonaya denied collecting any amount of money from the airline apart from the initial N200,000 given to them immediately after the crash as a palliative measure. Ogbonaya, described his experience since the crash as an unpalatable one and called on the state government and respective government agencies to come to their aid.
He said, “We have had a lot of experiences since the unfortunate Dana crash. Before the crash, we were living comfortably in our apartments and everybody knows that to get a decent two bedroom flat, you will need some good amount of money. Since the crash, it has not been easy for us because most of us have sent our wives and children back to our different villages because we can no longer take care of them as we used to in the past. It has been a very terrible situation and it has affected us in so many ways.
“Personally, I know how I suffered to get an accommodation compared to the amount Dana management gave us. At the initial stage, we didn’t want to collect the N200, 000 they gave to us to get an accommodation, but due to the advice of so many people who advised us to collect it and hold on with it. We collected it not because it was enough for us to get another accommodation, but based on the current situation then.