A witness, Mrs Fatima Abdurrahman, has told a Lagos High Court in Igbosere that justice was being sought by the family of the late Nabil Hanga, a 26-year-old graduate student of Stamford University, who died aboard a flight arranged by De Flight Medics, commonly known as Flying Doctors.
“I would like the court to do something about the misinformation and deceit of Flying Doctors,” she told Justice Kazeem Alogba when the matter came up for hearing on December 5.
Mrs Abdurrahman spoke while being led in evidence by claimant’s counsel, Mr O. Olaniyi, following which her sworn statement was admitted by the court.
She testified as the claimant’s second witness in a suit filed by the Estate of Nabil Hanga and the deceased’s father, Mr Mustapher Hanga.
The plaintiffs had told the court that Dr Ola Orekunrin, a proclaimed medical doctor, helicopter pilot and founder of Flying Doctors, was not a registered medical doctor in Nigeria and was, therefore, not licensed to practice in the country.
It was also alleged that though she once graduated in medicine in the United Kingdom (UK), she was subsequently suspended by the British Medical Council for gross misconduct, and is currently not registered to practice in the UK.
In a joint statements of claim, the family said the late Hanga, who went to Royal Cross Medical Centre on May 10, 2012 for treatment – where urgent tests and scans ordinarily necessary to establish the extent of his ill health were not afforded him – later died on board the plane provided by De Flight Medics, which was purportedly conveying him to the United Kingdom for further treatment.
It was alleged that after Hanga’s family was persuaded by Flying Doctors to pay an exorbitant sum of $135,000 for an air ambulance, the aircraft belatedly provided by Dr Ola Orekunrin (now Dr Ola Brown) and her team was in no way a medicalised air ambulance as it was not equipped with advanced life support equipment, nor did they have the staff required to safely evacuate the patient.
The plaintiffs averred that the plane was an ordinary passenger jet and did not even have a proper gurney to safely raise the patient into the plane.
That the patient, who had significant brain trauma, was bundled and jostled into the plane with the assistance of airport ground staff.
It was also stated that the claimants had to rush around to provide basic facilities such as oxygen cylinders and a nurse to assist on board.
The plaintiffs further averred that Dr Shirley Amaechi, who worked at the time at the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) clinic and attended to Nabil Hanga, reported that De Flight Medics was to provide a specialist doctor to assess and prepare the patient for evacuation by 5.30am on the 12th of May, but that the doctor did not arrive until closer to 12.30pm.
Her report states that there was a difference of about 16 hours between when the patient was to have been evacuated from the hospital as agreed and contracted, and when the plane finally took off late that night.
Thus critical time was lost, very significantly compromising the patient’s chances of survival, the plaintiffs alleged.
Furthermore, Mr Hanga in his statement said the pilot of the plane informed him that their aircraft was not designed for air ambulance service and was not meant to transport sick individuals.
The family alleged that the company would appear to have been set up by the Orekunrins and Jibayo to extort money from unsuspecting victims who were in desperate situations and would therefore not have the time to do the normal due diligence before parting with their money.
But Royal Cross Medical Centre and De-Flight Medics, in their statements of defence, denied the allegations.
Royal Cross Medical Centre urged the court to dismiss the claim with substantial cost.
De Flight Medics also denied the claim that its aircraft was not an ambulance, saying the plane was equipped with medical facilities.
Olamide Orekunrin denied that she was not qualified to practice in Nigeria as a medical doctor.
The company and management further denied the extortion allegations.
Hearing continues on February 6, 2019.