…it’s an accident – State police
…it’s a reckless, irresponsible act by the company – Family of deceased
Dayo Johnson – Akure
Three persons have died after inhaling toxic waste discharged in a forest reserve by a Chinese manufacturing company in Okitipupa area of Ondo state.
Vanguard learnt that the Chinese company is into cassava to ethanol processing in the areas.
The deceased include: Akinmusire Monday (35), Samuel Louis (45) and Ododolewa Adebowale (19).
They reportedly went into the forest reserve to fell trees when they reportedly met their untimely death.
Sources said that Samuel, a contractor and father of four, Akinmusire, a machine operator and father of five and the 19-year-old Adebowale a helper who is writing his School Certificate examination, went as usual to fell three but did not return that ill-fated day.
Akinmusire, who owns the saw machine led the other two to the government forest reserve to fell the trees and subsequently cit them into smaller sizes.
Speaking with newsmen, the brother to Akinmusire, who identified himself as Monday said a search party was raised when the three persons that went to forest failed to return.
Monday said during their search they only recovered the motorcycle they rode to the forest and their whereabouts unknown.
The matter according to him was reported to the community leader, the Olufara of Akinfosile, Oba Olamide Ayodele who invited the vigilante, the police and Amotekun corps who later discovered their dead bodies covered with black substance.
A deep pit was also discovered where the toxic waste was discharged by the company.
One the youths who accompanied the search team, Emmanuel said that “it was like the toxic waste overflowed the pit and flowed down the slope where the trio were working and submerged them.
Emmanuel said “the bodies of the victims were seen on the flowing track of the toxic waste which killed them instantly as there were no signs that they attempted to struggle with death.
Youths in the areas later protested their untimely death to the company.
The bodies of the victims have been evacuated and deposited in a private morgue.
Meanwhile, the solicitor to the late Akinmusire family, J.I Adeyanju Esq .and Dayo Akindejoye Esq confirmed to newsmen that the incident occurred on Wednesday, September 2, 2020 at Omotosho Okefara forest
They attributed the death of the deceased persons to “the recklessness, irresponsible and dumping of toxic, corrosive, harmful, explosive and hazardous substances by a Chinese Company.
They stated that the company deposited waste product led to the untimely death of the younger brother of our client, Mr. Akinmusire Monday, aged 35 and two others after inhaling the hazardous substances.
“Evidently, the Company flagrantly violated the provisions of the enabling laws with impunity which is detrimental to the host communities without adherence to Environmental Safety and International best practices.
“The Environmental Impact Assessment Act, National Environmental Standards and Regulations Enforcement Agency ( Establishment) Act, and the Harmful Waste (Special Criminal Provision) Act spelt out guidelines for dumping of hazardous substances which were clearly violated.
“The National Environmental Standards and Regulations Enforcement Agency (Establishment) Act specifically prohibits discharges of harmful quantities of any hazardous substance into the air or upon the land and the waters of Nigeria or at the adjoining shorelines.
“The younger brother of our client (Akinmusire Monday) was a vibrant, responsible and caring young man with a wife, five children, aged mother, in-laws and siblings who depended on him for their survival.
“Since his remains and others were deposited in a private morgue at Ore, all the dependants have not been finding it easy to sustain themselves.
“In fact, the aged mother has developed a blood pressure over the shocking news the sudden death of her presumed survivor and devastating incident.”
The attorneys to the family of Akinmusire, however, promised: “to do all that is legally allowed within the ambit of the law to ensure that justice prevail and the rights of all the dependants are protected.”
Contacted, the police image maker, Teo-Leo Ìkorò confirmed the death of the three persons but noted that “it was an accident as a result of the toxic waste that overflowed where it was discharged.
Ikoro said: “There’s a company producing ethanol in the area, Omotosho, and it was an accident as a result of waste from the company.
“The bodies of the victims of the accident have been deposited in a morgue.
The police spokesperson added that; “the company and the families of the victims are already talking and making arrangement on the matter. It was an accident.”