Weeping, as the Holy Book says, may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning.
Almost five years after their long quest for justice commenced, the family of late former Ondo State Commissioner for Culture and Tourism, Deji Falae, and son of elder statesman, Chief Olu Falae, have a reason to smile again. A Federal High Court sitting in Lagos, has given judgment in their favour, in a suit they brought against the operators of the ill-fated air flight that sent their beloved son, husband and father to an early grave. In her decision, the presiding judge, Justice Hadiza Shagari, ruled that Associated Airlines, the airline operators, and the Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority, (NCAA), the local airspace regulator, must bear the brunt of the blame, for the fatal plane crash that untimely robbed Deji, of a promising life and rendered his wife a widow and his children fatherless. Recall that on October 3, 2013, an Associated Airlines plane, carrying the remains of former Ondo State governor, Dr. Olusegun Agagu, to Akure for burial, crashed near a fuel dump located in Murtala Muhammed airport, killing Deji and twelve other of the nineteen people on board. In the aftermath of the gruesome tragedy, Deji’s widow, Ese, and her three school-age children, filed a suit against Associated Airlines Nigeria and NCAA, praying the court to hold that the crash was caused by the defendants’ negligence and dereliction of duty. They also asked for $100,000 as general damages and N220 million as income, minus living expenses the deceased would have earned in fifteen years as a commissioner, owner of a construction company and lawyer, had he remained alive. Although the counsel for Associated Airlines mounted a spirited defense, there was nothing but jubilation all around, as the judge granted Ese and her kids the N245.5 million compensation they sought. There is no doubt the money will prove very useful for the widowed woman and her children, as they faced the prospect of spending the rest of their lives without their bread-winner. It is however not yet clear whether the airline or the NCAA will appeal the judgment, as at the tike of filing in this report.