Owerri – But for the maturity of the Crew members of Air Peace Airline, flight operations at the Sam Mbakwe International Cargo Airport, Owerri, could have been disrupted on Monday, July 10, 2023.
Two members of staff of the Airline – Uneze Camilus and Mbajiogu Chimezie – suffered a humiliating raw deal in the hands of Airforce personnel for doing their job.While Uneze was punched in the face many times, Chimezie had his medicated eye glasses which he was wearing at the time, forcefully snatched, thrown on the tarmac, and smashed, by an Airforce personnel who stomped on it.According to shocked eye witnesses, it was a show of raw power and shame.
A show of what can you do? The show of shame did not stop at the Airport. It caused, almost, a security breach at the Airport and along the road from the Airport to Owerri as all Airforce Personnel were, allegedly, ordered back to base by an “offended” senior officer.Trouble started during boarding of the Airline’s first flight from Owerri to Abuja. The staff members responsible for screening passengers were at the tarmac doing the final screening before boarding.Then, Air Commodore Idorenyen F Bassey arrived from the protocol lounge to board the flight. He was wearing his uniform. Mr Uneze who was screening passengers went to him to screen him. As the screening started, the Air Commodore walked away, and told Uneze that he was subjecting him to an embarrassment by daring to screen him. He went ahead and forced himself into the Aircraft without being screened.Fearing he would lose his job if he is reported for not screening a passenger, Uneze went into the Aircraft and informed the Captain.It was the Captain who called out the senior officer and explained to him that his rank and uniform do not exempt him from being screened.The officer did not budge, instead, according to witnesses, his Orderly who was verbally attacking Uneze for daring to “embarrass” his boss by trying to screen him, placed a call to his colleagues.Within minutes, six other Airforce personnel drove straight to the parked aircraft in a vehicle.They ordered Uneze to enter the vehicle. He obeyed.
According to a statement which he wrote at the Security Department of the Federal Airport Authority of Nigeria, FAAN,where he was taken to, inside the vehicle, he was punched several times.Air Commodore Bassey who also entered the vehicle, according to sources, said he was no longer traveling to Abuja. It took the Pilot and passengers who were afraid for the safety of Uneze, if he is driven out and taken to the Airforce Base to have him released from the vehicle, and instead, taken to the FAAN Security office.However, while the pleadings were still on, one of the Airforce personnel identified Chimezie as one of those who embarrassed their boss. He forcefully snatched Chimezie’s medicated eye glasses, threw it on the tarmac, and stomped on it. In his statement at the FAAN Security Office, Chimezie said they did nothing wrong other than doing their job.
The ugly incident had consequences. Aside from the flight delay which it caused, the Air Commodore, allegedly, ordered the withdrawal of all the Airforce Personnel at the Airport and Owerri road. It took a call, it was alleged, to a superior officer for the personnel to return to their beats after about three hours.The flight eventually left with the Air Commodore on board.The incident took place at 08:35am. The flight number was P47151.Source: