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Saturday, 30 November 2013

Bellview crash: After 8 years, we’re yet to be compensated –Family of late pilot tells court

SUN - The family members of the late Captain Lambert Imasuen, the pilot of Bellview aircraft Boeing 737-200 that crashed on October 22, 2005, has told National Industrial Court (NIC) sitting in Lagos that after eight years of the demise of their breadwinner, his employer is yet to fulfill its promise to the
The eldest child of the late pilot, Imuwahen Lenita Imasuen revealed this to the court presided over Justice Lawal Mani, while being led in evidence by Yusuf Asamah Kadiri in the suit filed against Bellview Arilines Limited and its directors.
Apart from the company, other defendants in the suit are Kayode Odukoya, Tunde Yusuf, Gabriel Olowo, Emmanuel Ombu, Abisoye Mohammed, Kola Sobande, Chimara Imediegwu and Alex Iheuwa
In her evidence in chief, Imuwahen lamented that despite the express assurances given to her by Bellview Airlines through its company secretary, one Andrew Orji, the company refused to pay the compensation, thereby neglecting the family.
The eldest child of the late pilot narrated their ordeal in the hands of the employer of their breadwinner before they finally decided to file the suit against the company.
Imasuen also tried to tender newspaper publication and email correspondences, which the family exchanged with the airline on the payment of the compensation.
But the defendants’ counsel, Toyin Salice objected to the tendering of the documents as exhibits on the ground that the emails were computer-generated documents which was in variance to Section 84 (4) of the Evidence Act.
Responding, Kadiri urged the court to discountenance the objection and admit the documents as exhibits in the matter.
Kadiri also told the court that he had filed an application to compel the Ministry of Aviation, Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA), Accident Investigation Bureau (AIB) and the Directorate of Air Worthiness to produce the documents at their disposal pertaining to the crash.
Meanwhile, Justice Mani has fixed February 12 and 13, 2014 for ruling and continuation of trial.
In a supporting affidavit of the suit, the claimant (Imuwahen) averred that immediately after the death of her father, she and other family members proceeded to Bellview’s office as was required of the victims of the crash, and they were informed of their entitlement to $100, 000 as compensation for the death of Captain Imasuen as a victim of the air crash.
She recalled that the defendant made an advance payment of $10,000, with the assurance that the balance of $90,000 compensation would be paid upon production of letter of administration of the Estate of the late Captain Imasuen.
However, upon presentation of the said letter of administration, Imuwahen stressed that the defendants refused to pay the outstanding balance of $90,000 despite repeated demands.
The family is, therefore, urging the court to compel the airline to pay the said $90,000 and N82 million damages, as well as the cost of the action and other benefits and entitlement accruing to the Estate of the late Captain Imasuen both as air crash victim and staff of Bellview Airlines.
But the defendants, in their statement of defence, denied admitting to pay the claimant $100,000 compensation, and that there was no time they gave any assurances whatsoever of paying $90,000 balance.
The defendants added that on December 22, 2005, Bellview Airlines benevolently offered to pay the family of the late Captain Imaseun $10,000 to alleviate any hardship occasioned to the family as a result of the crash.
They further contended that the suit was brought in obvious bad faith, and that it should be dismissed with substantial cost.
The aircraft was on its way to Abuja from Lagos when it crashed at Lisa Village area of Ogun State, killing all 117 persons on board.


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