The Consumer Protection Council (CPC) and the Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) on Tuesday agreed to collaboration towards ensuring the rights of the consumers in the aviation sector.
Mr Babatunde Irukera, the new CPC Executive Secretary, disclosed this after meeting with the NCAA Director of Consumer Protection, Alhaji Adamu Abdullahi in Abuja.
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“This is a historic milestone in consumer protection. We have had discussions today with respect to an existing violation of the law which we will both be addressing.
“Beyond that; we had a larger discussion with respect to the opportunity to collaborate.
“I mean the collaboration between the Civil Aviation Authority as the sector regulator and the Consumer Protection Council with respect to protecting aviation consumers in Nigeria.
“For me I think it is a great accomplishment; the discussions we had are very robust.
“We are very excited about the opportunity that presents itself for us to ensure that consumers really not just get value for the money they spend; but get treated the way they really should be.’’
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According to Irukera, Nigerian consumers should recognise their rights and demand for them from all service providers.
On violation, Irukera stated that on April 23, 2014, about 22 Nigerian minors between the ages of 11 and 15, who were travelling from Houston (U.S.), back to Abuja on a Turkish Airline, were mistreated.
He said the minors had gone to represent Nigeria at the U.S. in a LEGO competition and took the Turkish Airline from Houston which was to connect Abuja from Istanbul.
According to him, Turkish Airlines lifted the passengers to Istanbul without making any prior arrangement on their departure from Istanbul to Abuja, thereby leaving the passengers stranded in a foreign country.
“You would have expected that Turkish Airline as a matter of law and as a matter of responsibility will take the appropriate measures to protect this young people and other passengers.
“Not only did Turkish Airlines not make the appropriate arrangements to connect a flight to Abuja, Turkish airline initially appeared absolutely irresponsive to their complaints and their dilemma.
“These were Nigerian citizens who had nowhere to go and are in Turkey for the purpose of transiting without any arrangement to enter Istanbul; the rules require that the airline take responsibility for that, but that did not happen.
“Evidence showed that the minors and their chaperon were asked to pay 40 dollars to secure a visa to be able to connect to Abuja,’’ he said.
Irukera said the airline failed in its duty to protect the consumers.
According the CPC boss, the NCAA has already sent a request to the airline to respond to these complaints.
“At some point next week, whatever the response, we will have additional request and then this investigation will proceed.
“We would ensure that those young children and their chaperon are treated appropriately.
“We would ensure that Turkish Airlines recognises their responsibility not just to these passengers, but to every passenger that it carries from or to Nigeria,’’ Irukera said.
In his response, Abdullahi reiterated NCAA’s commitment to ensuring consumer protection in the sector.
“We will ensure that we get to the bottom of this case; find out what happened; appropriate sanction applied; and ensure the passengers are compensated accordingly.” (NAN)