By Favour Nnabugwu
ABUJA — The Federal Government has dragged Turkish Airlines before a Federal High Court in Abuja over alleged criminal violation of the enabling law of Consumer Protection Council, CPC, and impunity.
The Attorney General of the Federation, AGF, and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, SAN, filed a three-count charge against the airline and two of its principal officers, Liker Ayci and Rasak Shobowale, the airline’s Board Chairman and Commercial Manager respectively before Federal High Court II in Abuja.
The prosecution came on the heels of persistent refusal of Turkish Airlines to respond to lawful requests of CPC for a full situation report on the airline’s alleged shoddy treatment of passengers of Flight 623 from Istanbul to Abuja on December 25 and 31, 2015 as well as January 9, 2016, which prompted the council to approach the Office of the Attorney General of the Federation for the prosecution of the airline.
According to the charge list with number FHC/ABJ/CR/147/21, the Federal Government alleged that the three accused persons between December 20, 2015 and March 2016, “without sufficient cause, refused to provide the Consumer Protection Council documents on Turkish Airlines’ policy on delayed baggage,” thereby committing an offence punishable under section 18 of the CPC Act.
The Federal Government also accused the airline and its two principal officers of violating the same section of the CPC Act by neglecting, without sufficient cause, to attend and testify before the consumer protection agency on the detailed steps taken by the airline to provide redress and compensation to passengers aboard its Flight 623 from Istanbul to Abuja on the said dates, who were affected by its untimely delivery of baggage.
The prosecution of the airline and its principal officers followed warning by the Federal Government to the airline to respond within 21 days to the Consumer Protection Council’s request for full situation report on the airline’s alleged shoddy treatment of passengers of flight TK 623 of Sunday December 20, 2015, and other subsequent flights during the yuletide or face prosecution.
The AGF had, in a letter of March 17, 2016, signed on his behalf by the Director of Public Prosecution of the Federation, Mohammed Saidu Diri, threatened to prosecute the Turkish Airlines in the event of its failure to respond to the council’s lawful demand for the full situation report, irrespective of the airline’s engagement with any other relevant agency.
He further asserted that after his office’s perusal of the documents submitted by CPC, including the airline’s letter of January 14, 2016, to the council, “it is our considered opinion that you are not in any position to choose which government institution or laws to comply with and which one to disdain.
“Your refusal, neglect or omission to oblige the CPC detailed information relating to delayed baggage of your passengers from December 2015 to January 2016 as requested is in breach of section 18 of the Consumer Protection Council Act 1992 and a deliberate attempt to ridicule a duly constituted authority.
“You are, therefore, instructed to fully comply with the request of the CPC with 21 days of the receipt of this letter or otherwise show cause why criminal proceedings should not be commenced against you pursuant to section 18 of the Consumer Protection Council Act 1992.”