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Funmi Iyanda
Lagos, Nigeria
Funmi Iyanda is a multi award-winning producer and broadcast journalist. She is the CEO of Ignite Media and Executive Director of Creation Television
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Thursday, April 10, 2008

What’s your take?

Reading through Ayodeji Omotade’s ordeal in the hands of the British Airways and police makes my heart bleeds. What’s your take on this?

33 comments:

Anonymous said...

oh this is absolutely ridiculous..something drastic needs to happen..How can they throw someone off the flight for voicing their opinion...it is not as if if intervened or physically involved himself...this is appalling and he definitely needs to press charges immediately...

nneoma said...

i wonder if there is a way to organize an official boycott of BA's treatment of Nigerians. I have since refused to travel on BA (for similar reasons) but this ordeal, and others mentioned on the website tops the cake. Nigerians from all over bring big business to BA (I know the former vice president used their services when he had a tiff with former presido Obasanjo) and any an organized boycott of their services by the Nigerians everywhere would definitely hurt their pockets. Would like to know if anyone else is interested.

nneoma said...

actually i know of a family friend of ours who was on that same flight, come to think of it. He too was shocked at the treatment of the deportee stating that the police physically assaulted the man terribly and that it was quite unnecessary. God only knows what happened to the deportee when he was sent to Nigeria alone with a bunch of blood thirsty British police officers....can anyone say air-bourne Guantanamo Bay?

Bisola said...

Don't believe everything you read. Or at least, try and verify the story first.

I felt the same level of indignation while reading the story but something rang false. It just didn't seem possible that all the guy said was 'please don't kill him' and yet he was arrested and treated in that way. Why him and not the other passengers? And let's be honest, how many naijas in such a situation would have just said 'please don't kill him' without aggression? I'm sorry but it's just not in our nature to do so. In such situations, we become quite aggressive, especially if we feel our rights are being trampled upon.

Anyhoo... just this evening, i decided to give my sis the jist and her hubby was there. He immediately asked me where i'd heard the story and then told me that his brother and a friend were both at the airport that day and had had their flights delayed as a result of this incident. It was while waiting for their flight that the economy passengers on mr. omotade's flight came out and told them what had happened.

Apparently, Mr. omotade DID try to intervene, but rather than ask the officials not to kill the deportee, he got quite aggressive and insulting. Now air traffic rules are clear. Assault on airline staff is not tolerated on any level, and assault is not only defined as physical assault. Raising your voice or issuing threats against an airline official is deemed as an assault. Long and short, not only was mr. omotade aggressive, he also started to whip up sentiments, such that the other passengers got involved. It was at that point that the officials decided to remove the deportee from the plane and report mr. omotade's behaviour to the police and the laws being what they were, he was immediately arrested.

Now, according to all the passengers on that flight, when they attempted to arrest mr. omotade, he actually STRIPPED DOWN TO HIS BOXERS while resisting arrest, insisting that he had done nothing wrong, since he hadn't physically assaulted any of the airline staff. Still, he was bundled off the plane and then the pilot decided he couldn't fly any of the economy passengers because they too had joined in the fray. He said he didn't feel safe, so they were all evacuated and the deportee was taken back on to the plane. The plane flew to lagos with only first and business class passengers (and of course, the deportee).

This story was corroborated by 2 different people at 2 different times, so i'm quite sure it's true. Mr. omotade needs to apologise for speaking half truths. In the first place, what was his business with the deportee? Did he know him from anywhere? Did he know why he was being deported? Of course, anybody in such a situation, resisting deportation would try to whip up sentiment and unfortunately, mr. omotade himself got caught up in the 'we have our rights' thing. He should have simply minded his business.

Anonymous said...

It is very degrading. I fully agree with the person that suggested that we Nigerians shouldn't fly BA.

We have self-respect!

In my head and around me said...

Just for saying "please be quiet?" What would then have happened if he had actually engaged them in a long conversation about how a deportee has human rights?

I am appalled that in today's service industry which is customer driven, BA would think a (Nigerian) customer so un-important that they would allow him to be treated like a common thief. And to think that they still went ahead to mete out punishment by "seizing" his luggage. Yeah, right it was missing.

I am outraged on Mr. Omotade's behalf especially as it could easily have been me. I am vocal enough to ask of the officers the same thing he asked. It was a reasonable request as one would be psychologically scarred by having someone killed in close proximity. Who knows, Mr Omotade's request may well have saved the deportee's life.

Unfortunately, my horrified brain cannot think up a proper punishment for BA. Suspension from flying into Nigeria, definitely. The government has to step in and protect one of its own. If this is not addressed, it will only get worse.

NigerianDramaQueen said...

Reading this just makes my blood turn hot. I am appalled, to put this lightly.
Am I the only one that has noticed that the planes British Airways sends to Nigeria are always older? I have always observed that when I am travelling to the US, the connecting flight from London to the US is ALWAYS better, and he air hostesses are suddenly a whole lot more polite.
This infuriates me because the Nigerian route is one of the most profitable routes for British airways.
My mum always said that if Nigerians would go on "strike" and not fly British Airways for some time, they would be forced to make some changes.
After reading this, I will not be flying BA for a while.
Hisssss

fantasy queen said...

appalling, more like a violationg of right. i'm hoping it doesnt end here and if he presses charges which he ought to, it'll be fairly heard out.

Standtall said...

FI, Do you honestly think our Government can do something about this? America will always fight for its citizen. Our govt must get involved in this. I have heard from friends that British Airways lack repspect for black pple especially the Nigerians. So appaling!!!

Abbie said...

looks like their version of "disruptive" and hers were totally different.
Makes you wonder why someone would get thrown off a plane from simply voicing an opinion. Doesn't make much sense.

Derin said...

I flew BA for the first time since childhood this year. I had braced myself for a fight because of all the stories I'd heard about their treatment of Nigerians. I was also desperate to prove to my sister that these stories were true (she's a BA frequent flier and always seems bemused when i tell about the complaints. She's never experienced anything other than the occasional curt hostess).

Anyway, Naija style, i was prepared!!! And to my surprise..... NOTHING! I checked in early, they were polite and courteous. Mind you, not overly so, but not rude either. I couldn't find any reason to pick a fight, so i settled down to observe them, quite sure I would eventually be proven right. And this is what I observed:

The BA staff and crew were not overly friendly, unlike some other crew members i've encountered. I checked in early and hung around the check-in area to while away the time and what I saw was a nightmare! Frankly, i cannot handle that job. I would be terribly rude. I saw some naija 'big boys' with the usual arrogance speak quite rudely to the people at the counters. I saw people who surely knew that their luggage was severely overweight argue with the staff, one of them saying he was helping a friend who was moving back (like who cares??). I know we like to carry load in naija, i carry my fair share but I ALWAYS weigh my luggage before i leave because i know i'd rather spend money on duty free goods than on excess luggage. Infact, that particular trip, i left several of my clothes behind because i knew i was overweight. I saw people refusing to pay, trying to be sly, arguing that it's only 1kg above the limit so why not let me through!! It was a mess! People refused to queue, there were people trying to get other people to carry their excess luggage for them! The staff were exasperated to say the least.

The flight wasn't much better. This our big mannism is just very irritating. From people who tried to sneak suitcases that would not have been allowed in the cargo onto the plain, to the guy who had to be told SEVERAL times to switch off his mobile phone, to the people who switched theirs on as soon as the plane touched down (even though the cabin crew had announced that mobile phones were to remain off!!).... Ha!!! I could go on. Tempers were high and I was ashamed. The guy behind me kept grabbing the air hostess each time he wanted to get her attention until she told him (with a note of real exasperation) he didn't have to touch her. Of course he got offended and out came the 'who are yous'. Ah. it was too much.

Of course, it's not only on BA flights that we see this sort of behaviour. It happens all the time, but this was the first time i actually took time out to observe, and to see things from another person's point of view. At the check in area, i asked one of the ladies if she enjoyed her job, and she said yes but that she found Nigerians in particular could be quite obnoxious and she wondered why we always traveled with so much luggage, especially if we were so unwilling to pay the price.

Lastly, while i do not support the inhuman treatment of deportees, i can sometimes understand why some of them are treated so badly. I once witnessed two people being deported at Heathrow. The first guy was quite calm and he actually said it was just his bad luck, he was going to ensure that the next time he wouldn't be caught. The 2nd guy was screaming and causing a scene, saying the oyinbo man was going to kill him o! That he didn't do anything o! What would you do in that case? Of course they had to restrain him and quite forcibly too! Afterall, would he have been deported if he had done nothing wrong? I tire for nigerians o!

jistlover said...

hm. the story me i heard was that the man was got other passengers to join him in threatening the officers by telling them that if they could do it to the deportee, they could do it to them, it was not fair, blah blah blah (why didn't he ask the deportee what he was doing in their country without paper).

Bisola, your story was wowo. i heard he stripped NAKED, i don't know about any boxers!

Jistlover said...

@ Standtall, I don't think america would fight for a citizen that officials said was so disruptive, the captain actually refused to fly the economy passengers. If that was an american airport, he would have been tossed in jail, no questions asked!!

PEOPLE!!! Let us question this, without sentiment. Does it really make sense that this guy would be treated in this way just for voicing an opinion????? In that case, why didn't they arrest ALL the economy passengers?? THINK ABOUT IT!! It just isn't possible. I know I have certainly voiced my opinion on an american flight before. I told the air hostess she had no business being rude to me (and i threw in the 'if you don't like it, then don't do it' line for good measure) and she apologised!!

Wetin! all the comments against the guy on the NVS site who tried to express this same sentiment just turned my stomach. Truly, we need to stop behaving like parents of spoilt children who don't like being told about their bad behavior!

Anonymous said...

Good luck with your boycott. I've flown BA almost all my life and i have no complaints. I do have serious issues with some of the Nigerians I've encountered on board though. That's a different story for another day.....

Yossy said...

I know British people do not like confrontation...and once you voice out your opinion they see you as being aggressive...
@Bisola..i know him very well ...he is my brother inlaw and i can vouch 100% that he can't strip down to his boxers so watch what you say unless you are a Naija Racist....

Anonymous said...

@yossy. Like i wrote, this story was corroborated by 2 different people on 2 different occasions. These two people have no reason to lie. Unless his fellow economy passengers lied against him, that's another matter. I just told it as i heard it. And whether or not he stripped to his boxers or whatever, I still say it's not possible for him to have been arrested for merely voicing an opinion. That's bullshit IMHO.

Bisola

Anonymous said...

Nigerians never cease to amaze me. So what some people are saying here is that the man deserved the arrest? And that it was perfectly fine for the pilot to throw out all the economy class passengers. I simply can't understand why it's so difficult for us to stand together on an issue. Whether Nigerians are unruly or not, it is no justification whatsoever for the crew to match them back with unruliness, or treat Nigerians differently from the way they treat other passengers. They make good money off us.If they hate us that bad, they should freaking cancel the London-Nigerian route and lets watch the way their stocks will plummet as it did when Abacha banned the airline. Na by force to go naija?

Yes Nigerians are loud, I agree, but Americans are far louder and far more outspoken. Had this happened on an American flight, I bet you the pilot would not have dared order 136 Americans off his plane. But he was going to Nigeria, the animals they once colonized and still see as such.I bet he had a drink with his friends over the issue laughing at how they threw the monkeys off the plane.
I am a frequent traveller so all these stories about Nigerians making noise in planes and refusing to pay is bull.

That some of us have chosen to support the colonial masters instead of our own shows that we still see them as superior.And do not think that for one moment that they would ever reciprocate the favour.
For those who choose to support Omotade,there is also a petition available on Nigeriavillagesquare.com.There is also a group on facebook calling for the boycott of BA.Infact there are several groups on facebook on the boycott and not all of them are Nigerian. That should give us an insight to their reputation.

At the end of the day, it remains a matter of choice.

motunde said...

Bisola, I read your comments and shook my head. I was on that flight and who stripped to his boxers? I was sitting in front at the economy section, and the only sounds we heard was a guy shouting for help and asking someone to save him. He kept shouting I go die oh. I did not even hear anything from any passenger or know that there was anything going on outside the deportees shouts until I saw some policemen come into the plane to remove someone whom they said was disruptive.

Then people started to protest from the back, asking what the guy had done, and this was the first time I heard any kpem from anyone i.e. when the police came to remove Mr Omotade. If he was threatning the guy and those of us sitting in front at the economy section could not hear anything Mr Omotade said then where was the diruption? Or how was he threatning them? How could a man strip to his pants or strip naked and only the two people you saw or heard about this? So where in heavens name are you getting your jist from?

The truth is we were all shocked at treatment of Mr Omotade? So did Mr Omotade wear his clothes back on before leaving the plane? because as he was being dragged out of the plane he was fully dressed.

Anonymous said...

Yossy

Thank you! that post was full of lies. Stripped his boxers my foot. I know two passengers who don't know the Ayo guy, their account of what happened on the plane is similar.
How do you also excuse the fact that the flight meant to arrive lagos at 6pm did not leave UK until 6.30pm arriving Lagos just before 2am. BA refused to inform their passengers on the cause of the delay and were so rude to passengers who went to ask what was causing the delay and when they are going to depart. How do you explain that after removing all passengers from the plane, BA then upgraded the only two white passengers in Economy to Business class on the flight, is this so that they do not seat close to the "natives"
seriously, some Nigerians need to shake of the 'plantation' mentality. Can BA dare to this on a flight to Israel? They dare not.
The boycott will happen whether some Nigerians, who are probably eating under BA like it or not.

Anonymous said...

i am so fucking angry right now and i am never flying BA again even it it kills me...Funmi iyanda is there a way we can make sure CNN carried this story!
everyone should spread the story round via facebook and what have you and Nigerian should boycott the useless airline!they think they can treat us anyhow..i hope they know nigerians contribute largely to whatever billion they make yearly!this is just fucking bullshit!how dare they treat pple like that!i totally understand if they felt threatened or whatever but they could have treated ayodeji like a human..what with putting handcuffs on him,seizing his money,his luggage..for pete sake he missed his brothers wedding!!!they took d memories away from him..now they have refused to refund his money!they are bloody white trash idiots!i am so angry i can hardly see!

pink-satin said...

@ madam bisola for anyone to get involved with the police officers it means the officers must have been brutal with the deprotee...mr omotade didnt have to know the deportee to get involved..i totally unbderstand them asking him to leave the plane and the others if they felt threatened but to treat him like a criminal.not let him get his luggage.come on...
i know nigerians can be obnoxious and all that..and i feel ashamed sometimes been on a 9ja flight and i see the way 9ja's behave,even at the aiport carrying overweight bags,carrying stuff not allowed on d palne..and generally we are loud when we talk and that can seem agressive....but after many years of flying to 9ja they should know us as a pple!!after all the customer is always right abi that one refers only to oyibo customer...also, why do they feel they have to beat up deportees and treat them badly..shebi u are already deporting them what else...i hope you know many deportees have died from the harsh treatment!!!!i will probably blog abt this

Anonymous said...

STRIPPED DOWN TO HIS BOXERS!!!! COME ON YOU GUYS!!!!THIS IS EVEN A POINTLESS DISCUSSION. THEY HAVE CCTV DONT THEY? ARE YOU GUYS BEING PAID BY BA??? WHAT THIS CASE HAS HIGHLIGHTED FOR ME IN NY CASE IS THE TREATMENT THAT MOST PEOPLE ENDURE ON THE BA LONDON TO NIGERIA ROUTE...YHEA GO ON TO CONTINUE FLYING BA IF YOU DONT KNOW THE WAY YOU OUGHT TO BE TREATED THAT IS YOUR CHOICE!!!!!

anonymous gal said...

appauling. i was pissed when i read this.im still pissed.I think a boycott is necessary until they apologize. this is not the first time it wont be the last.unfortunately Femi fani Kayode is not around to continue the battle he started.

OmoIbadan said...

I have read some of the comments here and all I could do was shake my head. Some Nigerians have mastered the art of wanting to look posh and proper in the eyes of their colonial masters. The K-leg in all those blog postings is too obvious.....if like 20 policemen came on board to arrest one man, when did he have the time to begin to undress?...abi they allowed him as part of his rights?

Anyway, we have opened a facebook book, and the response is overwhelming!!
http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=14986012353

Hair Azara said...

Thats absolutely ridiculous. Lately Airlines have been disappointing its customers.

pam said...

We should all remember a Nigerian deportee died last year on a commercial flight by officers from Spain. They put a bag over his head and he suffocated to death. With that in mind if I heard someone screaming I would certainly speak up. If I was on that flight I would never forgive myself for not speaking up while he screamed and screamed and eventually choked to death. On a commercial flight, with paying customers and children.

We forget so easily things we never should.
But of course its easier to remember the self fulfilling expectations of badly behaved Nigerians.

Nigerians wake up! Because a few behave badly (and Lord knows we dont have a monopoly on that) doesnt mean anyone has the right to treat us like shit.
And charge us bloody FRAUDULENT rates for it too.

Anonymous said...

ARE YOU GUYS BEING PAID BY BA? All this about stripping to his boxers is nonsense!!!!!!!!! When did he strip? When the police came? Before? Why would he strip? People think!!! Is it is brother being deported as far as am aware he says he has one brother and he is in Nigeria (the one getting married)Even if he took of his shirt did he do it as an act of desperation? Am sure he knows that he alone can’t physically take on BA staff or the police!!! Why would you want to do that? He lives in this country and he should know what the police are like...especially when it comes to black people!!!Look even forget Mr. Omotade case...what this has under lined for me is that people have had enough! Why is it that loads of people have now come OUT TO VOICE THEIR OPINION ABOUT THE TREATMENT THAT ENDURED FROM BA.I for one have not flown BA for over 8 years now and I certainly won’t be flying them in the near future. I know the way I ought to be treated and BA does not treat me in that way. Look we all have choices you that you say you will continue to fly BA, go ahead. Loads of Nigerians can’t be wrong to say the way BA treat people on the Nigerian route is less than satisfactory. So if you don’t know the way you ought to be treated go on with BA!!!
WHEN ARE WE ALL GOING TO DO SOMETHING ABOUT SOMETHING?????????

Iyaeto said...

Hmm awon aye!Stripped to the boxers or naked. Definitely not the Ayo I've known for over 10 years. People can add maggi and salt to a story sha.All the same, B.A needs to apologise.They forgot to offload his luggage because of the excitement. All because he wanted to travel in peace. Why weren't the passengers informed that there was going to be a deportee on the plane or an announcement made by the pilot about a possible disturbance like they do when the plane his turbulence? BA definitely needs to aplologise and compensate Ayo.I stopped travelling on BA ages ago.

nneoma said...

thank you pam for the reminder. the family friend of ours who was on that flight did not mention anything about stripping to boxers or being naked.

the sad thing about some of these comments is that we have two types of people who are anti-progress in Naija - those who do nothing and those, like some of the commentators on this post, are so anti-Naija that they will make excuses for our aggressors. Even if the actual passengers on the flight were wrong and the man stripped down to his boxers, is that any reason for the BA people to seize his money and assume that the money he was carrying was fraudulent?

Yes, we all have witnessed some incidents involving "loud" Nigerians and at times it can be annoying. But I think instead of seeing the negative of it, try and see the positive as well. Would you rather that everyone be quiet when your fellow countryman was obviously being abused? Would you prefer that all Nigerian maintain a weak, quiet demeanor so that we can be stepped upon by the West? I am happy that Nigerians are loud - for it defies this stereotype that Africans are lowly and deserving of pity....but i digress.

Oh, and thank you Pam for the reminder that Nigerians are not treated equally outside. Some here have forgotten that. I guess they are too busy brown-nosing their former colonizers.

Anonymous said...

A point of correction to Nneoma - it wasnt the 'BA people' who seized his money, it was the police. Get your facts right! Lets not forget our people are not innocent in all this. The average Nigerian is very rude and lacks basic manners i.e saying thank you, excuse me, please etc etc. Because someone has a different point of view from yours does not make one is 'anti nigerian'. I would rather hear both sides of the story before jumping up and down like a deranged monkey.

Ada said...

I don't get Nigerians. Does disagreeing with your point of view make me anti-nigerian or a slave to the 'colonial masters'? And why they heck do we do this 'Nigerians are loud/rude but Americans/Irish/Chinkos/Whatever!! are louder/ruder? What standards are we setting exactly and who are we comparing ourselves to?

Does the fact that I choose to fly BA mean that i don't know how i ought to be treated? Certainly not, if anyone on BA or any airline was rude to me, I would either tell the person off or file a complaint, it's simple. But the point is, I fly BA because it is convenient for me and I have never been treated with disrespect. A lot of people making noise have never flown BA but they've 'heard' that the people are rude so they get all hot and bothered screaming discrimination! Crying more than the bloody bereaved!

Is it so wrong to ask to hear both sides of the story before jumping to conclusions? Isn't that what we would do if it was a dispute between 2 Nigerians? So why not give the oyinbos a chance to state their own side? If BA is guilty of discrimination, by all means, demand an apology and let's stage a boycott but can't we at least hear their own side first?

My two cents' worth... but then again, maybe i'm just one who has 'mastered the art of trying to look posh and proper in the eyes of my colonial masters'.....

Anonymous said...

think nigerians are loud,have you met the spanish or been on a plane full of then lol....

Anonymous said...

read this link then the comments on this link
BA is known all over for being rude
and terrible service

http://blogs.spectrum.ieee.org/riskfactor/2008/04/britsh_airways_terminal_5_back.html