BY EVELYN USMAN
When Jeniffer On-yeche,17, left her parents’ abode in Ketu, a suburb of Lagos State, for work a month ago, little did she realise that tragedy was in the offing. Onyeche who just completed her secondary school eduction was reportedly processing her admission into the Lagos State Polytechnic.
Determined to furthering her eduction, she reportedly opted for a factory job at Rotpat Nigeria Limited located at 9, Adisa Akintoye street, off Demurin Ketu, apparently to save for that purpose. But little did she realise that her job option would be her greatest undoing, as barely two weeks after she started work at the factory, she reportedly died inside the company’s premises.
The tragic incident occurred on July 24. But till date, the circumstances surrounding what was considered a mysterious death is yet to be unraveled.
While the company claimed she was electrocuted, an autopsy report from the Pathology Department of the Lagos State University Teaching Hospital, LASUTH, conducted on her remains by Dr. O.O Lawal, attributed the cause of death to asphyxia, a condition in which an extreme decrease in the concentration of oxygen in the body accompanied by an increase in the concentration of carbon dioxide leads to loss of consciousness or death. Asphyxia can be induced by choking, drowning,injury, or the inhalation of toxic gases.
When Crime Guard visited the factory, every one approached was silent on the issue.But a colleague who pleaded anonymity said the deceased apparently did not know how to operate the machine, as she was only taught how to handle it for an hour thirty minutes. “She was to be paid N12,000 per month, but only worked for two weeks before the incident occurred.
Mother narrates experience.
At the home of the bereaved in Alapere, Ketu, sympathizers still thronged to console members of the family, particularly the deceased’s mother, Mrs. Dorcas Onyeche. Mrs. Onyeche who still found it difficult to come to terms with her daughter’s demise, narrated how she got the devastating news that has thrown the family into mourning.
According to her, “ I was at home that fateful day when I heard a knock on the door at about 12.20pm.When we invited the visitors in, their faces were not familiar to me. They simply asked if I was Jenifer’s mother and I nodded. The next thing I heard threw me off balance. They said my daughter had been electrocuted at her place of work. I screamed in shock and disbelief and told them to take me to the factory. A neighbour who rushed out to find what was happening followed me. On reaching the factory, some of the staff told us my daughter was in a good condition.They told me she had been rushed to the General Hospital, Gbagada.
“ I became apprehensive on reaching the hospital because I did not see Jenifer there. From there, we proceeded to the General Hospital, Ikeja. Yet,there was no sight of my daughter, same was the result at the Lagos State Teaching Hospital, Idi-Araba, LUTH. We went back to the factory and in my confused state, I held two of the staff we met, demanding that they revealed the whereabouts of my daughter. That was when they opted to drive us to Fine Day Hospital at Alapere where to my greatest fear, the news of the death of my daughter was broken.
“At that point, my world was shattered. Yet I insisted on seeing her. It was at that point that I noticed an ambulance and when I took a proper look , I discovered through the glass that it was my daughter that was inside. Just at that same time the doctor pointed to the direction of the ambulance that my daughter was inside.I fainted out of shock.”
Crime Guard gathered that when she regained consciousness, she was driven to Alapere police division from where she was later joined by her husband.Mr Friday Onyeche.
After a while, Mrs Onyeche continued,“Can you imagine that the police forced one of my co-tenants to sign for the release of my daughter’s corpse to be taken to the morgue even before the arrival of my husband?They said since it was getting late , they would not allow the ambulance to remain in the premises till the next day. But that was the last time the family was allowed to see the corpse as the Police claimed they had to get permission from the court before they would allow us see the corpse.” Again, Mrs Onyeche paused, looked at the faces of people around her and shook her head intermittently. One of the relatives who identified herself as Nike Olanita told Crime Guard that the corpse was eventually released to the family for burial after the case was transferred to the State Criminal Investigations Department , SCID, Yaba.
Explaining further, Olanita said , “some of the family members were taken to the morgue by operatives at the Homicide section,where they discovered, to their shock, that the deceased had bruises on her ears and hand. “At this point, we suspected there could be more to her death as claimed by the company. Other areas that need to be clarified are; one, while the company claimed Jenifer was taken to the hospital alive, the doctor told us she was brought in dead. Again, the company claimed the injury on her face and hand were sustained while she was trying to remove a blocked juice.How true that is remains to be justified.
“The managing director said usually, they turned off the machine to unblock whatever fragments was blocking it but because she was new, she probably didn’t know that, and was electrocuted in the process. How would she know how to operate it, when we were reliably informed that she was only trained for an hour, thirty minutes. All we want is for justice to be done by unearthing the circumstances that led to her death and bring anyone found culpable to book. Only then, will we assume justice is done,”she stated.
While the remains of Jenifer whose dreams of becoming a graduate and taking good care of her parents and other siblings was shattered, her body was laid to mother earth last Wednesday. However, operatives at the Homicide section of the SCID have assured that they would leave no stone unturned to ensure that the circumstances surrounding the mysterious death is unraveled.