Legal Drama

Dana Air Plane Crash Hits Close to Home: EME Executive Segun Demuren’s Father, Harold Demuren, Director General of NCAA, Asked to Step Down

AML industry what’s good?! Before I discuss the issues present in this post, I must say despite how terrible Nigeria as a country looks particularly with the Boko Haram killings, increased crime, terrible infrastructure, deplorable healthcare and education, kidnappings and accidents such as the one we are about to discuss, I am optimistic about the future.

Truthfully, I began, this year, to feel down and lose hope for Nigeria. I left Nigeria in 1991 but my heart stayed and has stayed in the country. Many times I find myself saying secretly to myself, “you know that is where you belong.” After decades of numerous dreams that have haunted me urging me to return back to the country, this 2012 I began experiencing, for the first time, pessimism and a relief that I have remained here in the States. It just seems like no matter how hard young people like myself both outside and within Nigeria work, the progress is painfully slow towards a future worth leaving for the next generation.

Of late, however, that optimism I have carried since 1991 has returned. This is primarily because I have recently seen a vision of how the creative industry in Nigeria will be; and continues to be shaped into, an industry that will really help Nigerians and Nigeria come to respect the rule of law. I am, once again, optimistic. If you cannot see or understand my vision, I’ll have to connect the dots for you at another time. Right now, I really would like to get to this very important issue at hand, the Dana Air Plane Crash.

Indeed, you would have to be hiding under a rock not to know about the Dana Air Plane Crash. On Sunday June 3rd, 2012, 153 passengers and a reported 60 persons on the ground died after a flight headed from Abuja to Lagos crashed into an apartment building in Lagos. Since the incident, there have been allegations that the cause of the plane crash was the result of a faulty air craft. In one instance, a Whistle Blower speaking to Channels TV explained that they were ordered to operate the plane, despite its many mechanical problems and issues.

Even more disturbing, is the recent emerging news/allegations that Nigeria’s First Lady contributed in a significant way to delay the landing of the distressed aircraft resulting in the crash. She has since vehemently denied this allegation, providing evidence which substantiates her travels and the fact that she did not fly on the date of the incident.

Often I hear people ask, “if God exists, why do bad things happen to good people?” I believe in God. However, when people ask this question, all I can think is, “why do we always blame God for everything including our own human acts?” What’s God got to do with a situation where he has blessed Nigerians with intelligence to create and devise a system to check their aircrafts and make sure it is safe for travel? If they don’t do it, how is God brought into the wahala? Which one be “God?” What’s God got to do with a society whose citizens are complacent to the point where they keep voting in incompetent leaders and many are unwilling to lay down their lives for the future generation? Boko Haram killings have become the order of the day to the point where many are becoming desensitized to yet another news of Boko Haram blowing up churches and killing Christians. Am I missing something?

I will get into the law and legal liabilities in this case shortly. But, before I do, specific to Nigeria’s music industry, we have been lucky, to my knowledge, not to have suffered any casualties in the Dana Air Plane crash. Nigerian Artist Iyanya recently revealed to the public and the press that he was supposed to get on the flight but did not. Thank God. Iyanya appeared to be the only music connection, albeit attenuated, to the Dana Air Plane crash, until the recent request by Nigeria’s senate asking the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority head, Mr. Harold Demuren, to step down. Demuren is the father to EME Executive Segun Demuren and as such, this certainly hits close to home i.e. Nigeria’s music industry.

If you do not know, Demuren is one of several executives managing what is slowly but surely turning into the global brand that is Wizkid.

I do not know enough facts about Harold Demuren’s role in the faulty airplane that led to the death of 153 + persons. Accordingly, barring additional facts emerging I simply cannot offer my legal commentary specific to issues of liability he may or may not face.

What I do know, in researching about him, is that he has a stellar performance record and has been at the head of championing stricter compliance with regulations for Nigeria’s Aviation industry. He was also, I understand through a Wikipedia article, the first to help with the Umar Farouk investigations and prosecution, offering detailed due diligence information employed by Nigeria’s Security Agency at the time.

In addition, you can view him at the end of this post discussing the industry, safety issues and what the Federal Government has been doing to keep passengers safe, prior to this accident.

For my purpose on this article, my role here is to ask what kind of damages the relatives of the deceased persons from the plane crash could possible obtain, given the facts reported so far?

Possible Lawsuits/Legal Actions

This case involves both a criminal and civil aspect to it.

For the criminal aspect, the Federal Prosecutor, where the evidence supports the facts, can charge identified parties with criminal acts in violation of its laws governing the operation of that aircraft.

Now let’s take a look at the Civil Litigation Claim

Who are the Parties?
Persons who can sue are the estates of the deceased (usually family relatives) and/or injured persons from the Dana Air Plane Crash.

What Area of Law Would We Be Dealing With?
Primarily Tort Law

What is Tort Law?
Tort law is a body of law that provides a remedy, typically monetary compensation, to persons that are harmed as a result of the unreasonable actions of others. It is subdivided into negligent and intentional torts.

Under intentional tort, the argument is that the person causing the harm intended it. Under negligent tort, the action is neither intended nor expected.

Clearly, in this Dana Air Plane Crash, the pilots etc. did not intend to kill themselves and 153 people. Therefore, we are in the realm of negligent tort.

What is Negligence?
Under Nigerian law, which shares a similarity with US law, a Plaintiff proves that a Defendant was negligent by showing:

1) There was an existing duty of care: The Plaintiff at trial has to prove that it was “reasonably foreseeable” that an injury would occur to him/her where a Defendant failed to take reasonable care in exercising his/her duty. So, in the Dana Air Plane Crash situation, the families of the deceased would essentially argue that Dana Air had a duty to their deceased relatives and that they failed to exercise that duty because it was foreseeable that a faulty airplane could crash, killing all passengers on the plane;

2) The Defendant breached that duty: Here, Nigeria’s tort law would require a Plaintiff to demonstrate several sub elements under this element. A Plaintiff has to show: a) likelihood of harm, the seriousness of injury that is risked; 3) the importance of the utility of the activity engaged in by a Defendant; and the cost and pragmatism in avoiding the harm in the first place; and

3) The Plaintiff suffered damages as a result of the breach of duty: The final thing that a Plaintiff has to show is the damages the Plaintiff suffered as a result of the breach of duty.

In the USA, the law requires a showing of causation. It is not enough to say that someone had a duty, breached that duty and you suffered harm. You have to show specifically how exactly the actions or non-actions of that person CA– USED your harm.

Typically when it comes to fighting these battles in a courtroom, the issues in contention are usually centered on the “breach of duty” and the “causation. “

If Families of the Dana Air Plane Crash Sue, What Legal Claims Can They Sue For?

They can sue for Wrongful Death, Pain and Suffering endured before death and if applicable, Product Defect.

What is Wrongful Death?
It is essentially a negligence claim brought in behalf of the dead persons for the negligence or wrongful actions caused by a third party. The lawsuit is typically brought by the executor of the deceased’s estate (a family member, for the most part).

What Are Causes of Wrongful Death?
Accidents (Car, Airplane, Boat etc.)
Defective drugs and defective products
Medical Malpractice (Doctor performs surgery s/he should not have which causes patient to die) and the list goes on.

What Kind of Recovery/Damages Are Persons Like Families of the Dana Air Plane Crash Entitled To?

The Plaintiffs’ would be entitled to medical expenses, hospital expenses, funeral costs, pain and suffering for the deceased before death, possible compensation for mental distress, emotional pain, financial support and loss of companionship, among other damages.

Watch Mr. Harold Demuren Discuss Nigeria’s aviation industry and safety measures in place prior to this fatal Dana Air Flight Crash.


Watch Part II, First

Watch Part I

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Credited for several firsts in the fashion and entertainment industry, Uduak Oduok (Ms. Uduak) is a fashion and entertainment lawyer, speaker, visionary, gamechanger, trailblazer, and recognized thought leader, for her work on Africa’s emerging global fashion and entertainment markets, and the niche practice of fashion law in the United States. She is also the founder of ‘Africa Music Law,’ an industry go-to music business and law blog and podcast show empowering African artists. Her work in the creative and legal industries has earned her numerous awards and recognitions, including an award from the American University Washington College of Law for her “legal impact in the field of intellectual property in Africa." She has also taught as an Adjunct Professor at several institutions in the United States. For more information, visit her at

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