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Family asks Oyo to probe death of UI student at soap factory

Family asks Oyo to probe death of UI student at soap factory
August 05
15:00 2020

The family of Gbadebo Richard, a student of the University of Ibadan (UI) who was crushed to death inside a factory, has demanded a probe of the incident.

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In July, the 21-year-old 300-level student of European studies, was said to have died after slipping into a soap-making machine at the factory owned by Henkel Nigeria Limited, manufacturers of WAW detergent and bar soap, in Ibadan, Oyo state.

The deceased was said to have enrolled for a job as an operator at the company, amid the coronavirus pandemic which led to the closure of schools.

In a letter to the attorney-general of the state, Femi Aborisade, counsel to the family, said Richard’s death was as a result of the company’s “failure to observe duty of care”.

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“Nigeria is a country governed by laws. Under the laws of Nigeria, it is obligatory for the owner of a factory to exercise duty of care and provide safety measures to safeguard life, where the operations in the factory involve working with anything, whether living or inanimate, and whether moving or stationary, of such a nature that, may endanger life,” the lawyer said.

“Where there is failure to exercise the duty of care prescribed by law, the owner(s) and their top managers who have responsibility not to endanger life are deemed to have caused the death or any other consequences that may result thereby.

“According to the family of the deceased, Late Richard Gbadebo, was on a night shift duty on 27th July, scheduled for the period between 6pm and 7am. Sometime in the morning of 28th July, the mother received a call from a colleague of Richard stating that Richard had slumped at work. On arrival at the companies’ premises, a company nurse tested her blood pressure and informed her that she had high Blood Pressure (BP). She was then taken to Zoe Hospital around the companies’ premises where she was admitted. She was not allowed to see the corpse of her son. However, the mother called her husband, Mr. Olusola Gbadebo who got to the companies’ premises around 7.30am.

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“The family of Late Richard Gbadebo briefed us that the callousness and utter lack of exercise of the duty of care was extended by the agents of both HENKEL NIGERIA LIMITED and EXPAND GLOBAL INDUSTRIES LIMITED on the 28th day of July 2020 to the family of Late Richard Gbadebo. According to the family, when the father of the Late Richard Gbadebo got to the joint premises of HENKEL NIGERIA LIMITED and EXPAND GLOBAL INDUSTRIES LIMITED on the 28th day of July 2020, about 7.30am, nobody officially received him. In fact, he was not allowed to enter the premises, in spite of his protests against being locked out.

“The father only had an opportunity to force his way into the premises when the gate was opened for an ambulance. Even after he gained entry, for undisclosed reasons, the father was not allowed to see the corpse of his son, despite demands for same. No official of the companies was available to give account of the circumstances that led to the death of his son. The corpse of Late Richard Gbadebo was not removed from the companies’ premises until around 12 noon and taken to Teju Hospital, Ring Road, Ibadan, between the hours of 1-2pm on the 28th day of July 2020.”

The family further asked the state government to investigate the circumstances surrounding the death of Richard, who is said to be the only son.

Last week, Aliyu Jibril, the company’s human resources manager, had said  representatives of the met with the deceased’s family over the incident.

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“We will continue to engage with the family and provide the necessary support during this difficult time,” he had said in a statement.

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