For Ese, the widow of late Commissioner for Culture and Tourism in Ondo State, Deji Falae, this is good news.
Though it might take an eternity for the wound and agony to heal, Ese is embracing life again and giving her three kids all the attention they desire. On Thursday, October 3rd, 2013, Deji had led the state governmentâ€™s delegation to accompany the corpse of former Ondo State governor, Chief Olusegun Agagu, from Lagos to Akure for the state burial only for the Associated Airline plane to crash barely minutes after take-off from Lagos.
While Agaguâ€™s son and son-in-law survived the crash, Deji and others did not. Watching them bemoan their fate, you could feel the intensity of their misery and almost touch it. Take Ese for instance, itâ€™s a disposition that seems to say: â€œSilence the pianos and muffle the drums, bring out the coffin and let me mourn.â€ However, the family of Deji asked a Federal High Court sitting in Lagos to hold that Associated Aviation Nigeria Ltd and the Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority, NCAA, were responsible for his death in an air crash through negligence.
Ese and her three teenage children claimed damages from the defendants for alleged negligence. They are claiming $100,000 as general damages and N219,906, 250 which the deceased would have earned in 15 years as a lawyer had he not died.
The plaintiffs are seeking in the alternative, N108,527,750, Â£160,740 and $19,000 as special damages for alleged breaches of the defendantsâ€™ respective duties under the Civil Aviation Act 2006, Fatal Accident Act 1846 and Fatal Accident Law of Lagos State. They are also praying the court to award N5 million as cost of filing the suit and legal fees, and 10 per cent interest on the post-judgment sum. However, the Federal High Court in Lagos has given judgement in their favour. In her decision, the presiding judge, Justice Hadiza Shagari, ruled that Associated Airlines, the airline operator, and the Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) the local airspace regulator, must bear the brunt of the blame for the fatal plane crash that untimely robbed Deji, son of elder statesman Olu Falae, of a promising life and rendered his wife a widow and his children fatherless.
Although the counsel for Associated Airlines mounted a spirited defence, there was nothing but jubilation all around as the judge granted Ese and her kids the 245.5million naira compensation they sought.