British Airways panicks after Nigerians threaten boycott

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The British High Commissioner to Nigeria, Bob Dewar, has apologised to Nigeria over the poor treatment of its nationals who were barred from boarding a Lagos-bound British Airways flight 27 March 2008.

Speaking during a courtesy visit to Nigeria’s Information Minister of John Odey Tuesday in the capital city of Abuja, Dewar described the event as ”unfortunate”.

He however tried to justify the action of the airline, saying it was taken on ”safety and security ground”.

The envoy said the British government would ensure that the incident was not repeated.

Nigerians have been up in arms against the British Airways, after it barred mostly Nigerian passengers from boarding the airline’s flight in London, in reaction to a protest by Ayo Omotade, a UK-based Nigerian citizen, who had protested the handling of a Nigerian deportee by the UK police officers.

Many have advocated, through the Internet and other fora, a boycott of the airline until it is ready to treat Nigerians with more respect.

President Umaru Yar’Adua and Foreign Affairs Minister Ojo Maduekwe have also weighed in on development, saying it was unacceptable for any foreign airline to treat Nigerians shabbily.

But Dewar said: “The British government has been talking to British Airways following the reaction of the Nigerian Foreign Affairs Minister and there has been report submitted to the British government on that particular occurrence.

“British Airways have given us its assurances that they will continue to very much value the Nigerian customers and that dignity of Nigerian customers is paramount for them. On this particular occurrence, I say to you that it is an unfortunate incident which we hope will not be repeated.” Panapress .

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