By Chinedu Eze
The recent protests by the ground victims of the Dana Air flight J9 992 crash of June 3, 2012 at Iju/Ishaga, Lagos that killed 163 people, including 10 on the ground and damaged properties worth billions of naira, have paid off as the airline insurers have started paying them compensation.
One of the beneficiaries was Pastor Daniel Omowunmi, who led the protest to Dana Air’s head office last week, insisting that the ground victims of the tragic accident should be compensated.
The payment of compensation was confirmed by the airline’s head of corporate communications, Tony Usidamen, who said that the airline’s insurers must make sure that everyone involved in the crash was compensated.
“We can confirm that payment of compensation to affected Iju-Ishaga residents has commenced. The process is still ongoing, and our insurers are committed to ensuring that all claimants are compensated to the extent of their losses.”
Although Usidamen declined to give the names of the residents or amount paid to the initial beneficiaries of the compensation, but THISDAY learnt that Pastor Omowunmi who had been the most vocal of those affected by the crash had received initial benefit of $30,000 (about N4.8 million).
Omowunmi confirmed that he had received the said amount from the airline insurers but stressed that it was for the provision of accommodation as he lost everything he had to the crash, including his home, his company which is jointly owned and has been living at the mercy of friends and relations.
Omowunmi had earlier demanded N500 million as compensation for the property and goods he had lost to the crash, including thousands of copies of books he was to supply to schools that burnt in the inferno that erupted after the crash.
On why it took this long for the compensation to be paid to the ground victims, Usidamen said, “In order to ensure that just and fair compensation is paid to the affected families, several processes have be followed by law, and settlement reached by all parties concerned. These processes usually take time but our insurers are leaving no stone unturned to ensure that all the matters are resolved.”
He said that the airline’s insurers have also continued to deal with claims by families of passengers and crew on-board the ill-fated flight, adding, “Over 84 families have received advance payments of $30,000 and payment of final settlement to families who have produced the requisite Letters of Administration (and Letter of Guardianship in the case of minors) has since commenced.”
Usidamen thanked the Lagos State Government for the cooperation and assistance rendered to the airline and relations of the victims of the crash so far.
“With the waiver of statutory fees and fast-track system, families will have the requisite documents expeditiously. This will enable the insurers to settle all claims within the shortest possible time, and in accordance with the law,” Usidamen said.