PRESS STATEMENT BY RESPECT NIGERIANS COALITION (RNC) ON THE EXPIRATION OF ULTIMATUM GIVEN TO BRITISH AIRWAYS
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Ladies and Gentlemen of the Press, we are issuing this Statement on behalf of Respect Nigerians Coalition (RNC), a coalition of organizations and persons championing the campaign against British Airways’ discriminatory and indecorous treatment of its Nigerian customers. You all know that on Thursday, 27 March 2008, British Airways officials and the police subjected Mr Ayodeji Omotade to degrading treatment and went further to eject the other 135 passengers (overwhelmingly Nigerians) from BA075 flight bound for Lagos Nigeria from London Heathrow Airport. Of course, we are acutely aware that without your unstinting support, this story would have been swept under the carpet. That is why today, we are once again calling on you to help deepen international consciousness about the campaign.
On Tuesday, April 15 2008, we made five specific demands on British Airways over this issue and asked that they address these before Wednesday, April 30, 2008. We asked British Airways to:
- tender a clear and well-worded apology to all passengers affected by their discriminatory and intimidatory conduct aboard flight BA075 on 27 March, 2008 in a Nigerian national newspaper;
- tender a clear and well-worded written apology and appropriate compensation to Mr Ayodeji Omotade for financial and emotional losses suffered as a result of the conduct of British Airways and its agents on the day;
- withdraw all adverse statements made to the police about Mr. Ayodeji Omotade over this incident;
- lift the ban imposed on Mr Ayodeji Omotade, even as he would still retain his right to decide whether or not to fly British Airways in the future, and
- issue an undertaking that British Airways shall improve its customer care culture and desist from such practices that give the impression that the airline is arrogant, uncaring and discriminatory.
So far, British Airways has failed to do any of the above or give any indication of its intention to do any of the above. The terrible statements its faceless officials have been making in the press over this issue, both in the United Kingdom and Nigeria, attest to the unwillingness of those who run the airline to see reason. In the face of British Airways’ stonewalling, it is therefore our intention to now inform you of our next line of action.
We members of the Respect Nigeria Coalition (RNC) have resolved to officially commence the worldwide boycott of British Airways goods and services as from Thursday, 15 May, 2008. We are calling on every Nigerian and friends of Nigeria, every person who loves justice and fairness and every person who has a social conscience to vote against British Airways with the power of their purse. We are calling on people to educate British Airways on the virtues of good corporate citizenship. Nigerians and friends of Nigeria all over the world will continue to sign the Petition/Protest Letter posted on our two websites – www.nigeriavillagesquare and www.respectnigerians.com as long as the protest continues.
We recognize the concern showed by the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Alhaji Umaru Musa Yar’Adua and the Nigerian Federal Government over this issue. We are aware that discussions are ongoing between agents of the Federal Government and British Airways, the details of which are unknown to us at this time. But we are not waiting for the Federal Government to teach British Airways that the customer is king. They will find that out as they continue to test our resolve, because we are absolutely determined to prove that it’s possible for people’s power to trounce corporate tyranny.
Finally, you, members of the press, are the most important pillars of support we have throughout this struggle. It is you that put our issue on the front-burner of national and international discourse. Your reports have roused the consciousness of the British and international public and we know that the endless stream of messages of support we are receiving and the thousands of signatories supporting our protest have been largely due to the publicity and support you have given our campaign from the beginning.
Please, stand solidly with us, for the man dies in him who keeps silent in the face of tyranny of any sort.
Thank you for your support, care and attention.
(For and on behalf of Respect Nigerians Coalition)