Emirates has been ordered to pay €1.35 million by a Nigerian court for losing Mr Orji Prince Ikem’s luggage 12 years ago. The court made its judgement after hearing that the passenger lost the same amount after his luggage was lost en route to China. As well as compensating the man for his loss, the airline has also been fined €109,000 in damages.
In 2007, Mr Ikem was travelling from Lagos to Guangzhou via Dubai and Hong Kong, carrying €1.35 million in his hand luggage for the purchase of goods in China. According to testimony, Emirates staff insisted that they take care of his luggage as it would be safer. Ikem was reluctant to hand over his bag, but was afraid of missing his flight so eventually handed over his bags, receiving luggage tags and an assurance that he’d get the bags back at the end of the journey. He never saw the bags again.
Ikem said that he has spent the last 12 years trying to recover the lost money, which included €579,000 of his own personal funds and €771,000 that belonged to another businessman, Olisaemeka Ugwunze. Mr Ikem further testified that his bag was properly screened by the Customs and Immigration officers at the airport and that he had correctly filled in the Nigerian Customs Service currency declaration form.
Ikem also gave evidence that he spent months trying to locate the missing bags, making repeat trips to Dubai and Guangzhou in an effort to find them, but the police investigation subsequently uncovered that the missing bags had never left Lagos.
Emirates argued that the baggage handling processes at Murtala Muhammad International Airport in Lagos is the authority of the Nigerian handling company, but the High Court judge ruled in Ikem’s favour, stating that the airline had failed to refute his claims.
Emirates responded that it has already filed an appeal and will be “vigorously defending” its position.