By Yetunde Ayobami Ojo
The Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) has filed appeal against the judgment of Lagos division of the Federal High Court, Lagos, which ordered it to pay N246m compensation to Ese Falae. .
Justice Hadizat Shagari had in his verdict ordered Associated Aviation Nigeria Limited to pay N246m as compensation for the death of a former Commissioner for Culture and Tourism in Ondo State, Deji Falae.
It would be recalled that Falae a then serving commissioner, was among the people who lost their lives on October 3, 2013, when an Associated Aviation aircraft, conveying the remains of a former governor of Ondo State, Olusegun Agagu, from Lagos to Ondo for burial, crashed at the Lagos airport.
The aviation authority through its counsel, Emeka Okpolo (SAN) appealed the judgment on grounds that the trial court judge erred in law when he held
“the evidence of the principal witness, Ese Falae, the widow, the fact of the case speaks for itself. The first defendant, the Associated Aviation Nigeria Limited, and the second defendant Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority, cannot exonerate themselves from the circumstance surrounding the crash of the aircraft that claimed the life of Deji Falae. In my view, the plaintiffs succeed in their claims against the defendants. Judgment is hereby entered in their favour as per their claims”.
The appellant therefore contend the court failed to see that the investigation conducted by the Accident Investigation Bureau (AIB) vested with the statutory duty to determine the cause of the accident noting that the Court did not consider that the Aircraft was airworthy before the crash and was issued airworthiness certificate which was tendered in evidence.
The appellant is therefore appealing the decision on the grounds: “that the Court failed to properly consider that the Aircraft was insured as at the time of the crash and consequently the plaintiffs are entitled to claim from the Insurer and also that the Court failed to properly consider among others, that before that crash, the charter Aircraft had flown three times and nothing ever happened.
“That the court failed to see that aviation claims can only be made in strict compliance with the Civil Aviation Act and that the court failed to properly consider that aviation claims are governed by the Civil Aviation Act and not common law, Fatal Accident Act 1846 and Fatal Accident Law of Lagos State”.
It also stated that the court failed to see that an aviation case is sui generis in nature and consequently governed by the provisions of the Civil Aviation Act and that there is no law either statutory or judicial in support of the decision of the trial court.
“That the trial Judge erred in law in failing to weigh and ascribe probative value to all the evidence properly placed before him against the 2nd Defendant/Appellant and occasioned a miscarriage of justice against the 2nd Defendant/Appellant. The 2nd Defendant was not negligent at all since it fully made regulations for the operation of aircrafts as it is statutorily required of it; and that the Plaintiff is not entitled to any other relief than as provided in the Civil Aviation Act.
“Court failed to see that res ipsa loquitur will not apply to the extent that concerns the 2nd Defendant/Appellant when the 2nd Defendant (the regulator) showed reasons why the accident could have occurred without their negligence which reasons include that the 2nd Defendant or its agent did not operate or was not in control or management of the aircraft.”
The appellant therefore prayed that the appeal be allowed, and the judgment of the trial court be set aside to the extent that concerns the 2nd Defendant/Appellant for the grounds stated in the notice of appeal therein.