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The Federal Government has summoned the Egyptian Ambassador to Nigeria, Mr. Ashraf Salama, over the ill-treatment meted out on a Nigerian teenager, Master Joshua Kunle Abdulazeez, by Egypt Air.
An official of the airline had torn the teenager’s Nigerian passports in Istanbul, Turkey, while on his way to Ukraine to resume studies as a medical student.
Ministry of Foreign Affairs, which issued the summon yesterday, demanded an unreserved apology from the Egyptian government.
The Minister of State 1, Foreign Affairs, Viola Onwuliri, also accused Egypt Air of “child-abuse” for starving the young Nigerian of food for three days, after wrongly routing his air ticket.
She said it was unacceptable that Egypt Air had failed to respond to repeated enquiries from the Nigeria Embassy in Cairo on what led to the maltreatment of the Nigerian.
The Nigerian authorities had sought explanation from the airline on reports that the Nigerian passport of the 17-year-old teenager was torn to shreds by a staff of Egypt Air in Istanbul, Turkey.
Ms. Onwuliri expressed dismay that the Egyptian ambassador’s initial reaction to the issue was to question the authenticity of local media reportage on the Nigerian who was treated like “a common criminal” by Egypt Air.
When Vanguard called at the Ministry of Aviation last Wednesday, the Assistant Director of Press, Mr Joshua Odaodu, said both the Minister, Mr Osita Chidoka, and the Permanent Secretary, Mrs Jamila Shuara, were not available for comments.
Odaodu further stated that since the Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority, NCAA, which is a parastatal of the Ministry was already handling the matter, based on the petition sent to the agency by the Abdulazeez family, the Ministry had to wait for NCAA to complete its investigation into the matter before wading in.
Meanwhile, Nigerians have begun reacting to the development, with Lagos-based lawyer, Mr Malachi Ugwumadu, expressing outrage over the incident.
Speaking to Vanguard in a telephone interview, Ugwumadu said: “I am joining others who have condemned the unjustifiable attack on Joshua Abdulazeez, a fellow Nigerian citizen.
“What led to the young man being flown to a country different from his destination was not his fault but due to negligence on the part of those who sold the wrong ticket to him.
“It was the mistake of somebody who was not competent to do his job. Whatever was the case, the type of treatment that was meted out to this young man was callous.
“The fundamental rights of all Nigerians are guaranteed by the 1999 Constitution as amended. So, a Nigerian’s life cannot be taken except in accordance with the order of a competent court of law. Similarly, a Nigerian’s freedom of movement including the right to leave and enter the country is also guaranteed.
“The right to personal liberty is also guaranteed by the constitution. The right to human dignity is also provided by the nation’s grundnorm.”
Ugwumadu maintained that the fundamental human rights of citizen Abdulazeez as stipulated under Chapter Four of the constitution, had been attacked by the action of the Egyptian officials.
Said he: “Abdulazeez could therefore file an action in court for the enforcement of his fundamental human rights which would entail the perpetrators of those acts including the airline being sued.
“One of the reliefs that he should seek is a heavy compensation for the damage done to his passport. The destruction of his international passport and the physical pain he was subjected to could not have been part of the Egyptian legal provisions for travelling to a wrong destination.
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