The family of Vincent Williams has called on the Inspector General of Police to investigate his death in a Chinese factory in Ogun State. Until his death on June 19, the 26-year-old Vincent who hails from Adamawa was a supervisor at Goodwill Ceramics FZE located at Ogun Guangdong free trade zone, Igbesa, Ado-Odo Otta area of the state.
Although Ogun State Police Command through its spokesman Abimbola Oyeyemi described the incident as industrial accident, his family argued that their brother who is a father of three would have survived if he was given appropriate medical attention. According to Oyeyemi, the matter is currently being investigated by the State Criminal Investigative Department(SCID).
Saturday Sun gathered that the company which is managed by one Mr. Lee, a Chinese national, employed Vincent and many other young men as casual workers over four years ago. Vincent however lost his life when the engine used to mold ceramics exploded.
Questions begging for answers
His guardian simply identified as Isah who spoke with Saturday Sun claimed that he only learnt of the death of Vincent through a worker in the factory who alerted him that Vincent was dead and would soon be buried.
“I received a call from the company that my brother who was about 26 years was dead. They alerted me when the Chinese were about to hurriedly evacuate the dead body to an unknown destination. It was then that we moved in and reported the incident at Ogun State Police Command and they have promised to investigate the matter. His colleagues told us that the late Vincent had reported severally that the boiler used in melting the ceramics was faulty and needed to be changed. He informed them and they insisted that he was must continue using it like that till the engine blew and the hot chemical splashed all over him. Instead of taking him to a good hospital for treatment , he was taken to a nearby local clinic where he died days later. Instead of reporting the matter to the police, they tried to smuggle the body out before one of the workers alerted me.
“We are calling on the IGP to look into the matter and ask basic questions. Why was he dropped at a local clinic, which rarely has a doctor on duty? If it was a Chinese that sustained that degree of burns, will the person be treated there? What are the protective gadgets given to workers in that factory to limit such accidents? Why didn’t they report the matter to the police when the incident happened and wanted to return him to Adamawa for burial?
“The police should not allow them to treat it as a normal accident when the truth is that our brother was allowed to die due to negligence. He is a father of three and has a mother who are all in Adamawa. He came to Lagos to better his life and provide for his little children. We are grateful that he had the opportunity to earn a living despite the harsh conditions they live in that factory where they are all camped.”
Camped for peanuts
Another worker in the company who spoke on the condition that his name will not be mentioned said, “I am from Zamfara and so many of us from the North are in that company. Please come over and see for yourself. So many of us were recruited from the North and because we are stranded , we have no choice but to accept the peanuts that they are paying us. Nigeria has failed us, if not I have no reason to stay here. Vincent would have survived if they took him to a good hospital. This is what they normally do when we are hurt to avoid police interference. So many of us were sent back to village as soon as we get disfigured. Some got blind, amputated and sick due to the chemical that they inhale. We do not have safety gadgets and when that incident happened Vincent was still talking and hopeful that he will recover before it got worse. How can they keep him with that degree of burn and say that the factory clinic can handle the matter. He has worked for more than four years in that factory and is seen as a supervisor. When the machine was showing signs, we kept drawing their attention to it but they said we should not worry, that nothing will happen.”
On how they got the job, the factory worker said he knew about the company through a recruitment agency. “One Sani told me and my friends to come to Lagos for a job. It was when we got here that we realized that it is a casual worker job in the factory. Please if it is possible send someone to come and investigate our claim. There are so many of us from the north working here and they camp us in the factory residential area. In my room, we are about eight of us sharing a small room. Please come to the factory and see for yourself. If we did not alert Mr Isah, they would have used his brother who is still a teenager to move the corpse to Adamawa or even bury him in Lagos. They will give the family little money and the matter will be over,” he alleged.
On the outcome of the investigation, a source at the Ogun State CID said that the Chinese had been invited but they are yet to honour the investigation. “We have retrieved the body of the deceased and will surely get to the root of it. We are still making plans to visit the factory although I heard that IG has sent a monitoring team from Abuja to join us in the investigation. I can only smell a case of negligence here, if it is confirmed that such happened then the company will be culpable.”