These are not the best of times for Adekunle Shokunbi, a worker with Spring Feeds Limited, Itamaga, Ikorodu.
Kunle was employed as a stockist at the company to monitor goods purchased by the company. However because of the shortage of staff and constant cases of missing production materials, Kunle was mandated by the management to also supervise operation in the factory so as to block leakages.
His decision to abide by the management’s directive later became his undoing as an industrial incident that happened to him while performing his official duty has now left him permanently disabled.
The incident happened on April 5, 2022. The 22-year old Kunle had resumed work at the factory to supervise works done the day before. Adekunle noticed there were remnants of the animal feeds in the machine used in mixing the products at the company’s factory a day earlier. Realising that leaving the remnants could hamper the day’s job, and noticing the machine was already put off, Kunle attempted to clear the remnants by putting his right hand in the machine., a decision he later regretted.
His right hand was inside the machine when his colleague, identified only as David, suddenly switched it on. Before he knew what was happening, the right hand was already mangled by the machine. By the time the machine was put off, Kunle had passed out.
His colleagues rushed him to the Ijede General Hospital, where his condition was stabilised having lost so much blood. He was referred to the Lagos University Teaching Hospital, LUTH, for further treatment.
He said, “I was employed as a stockist and at a point when the company was short staffed and was having shortages in materials in the factory, the management asked me to supervise workers at the factory which I obeyed.”
“I was carrying out my daily duty on April 5 when I suddenly realised that the workload was too much for the available staff members. So, instead of sitting down to just supervise, I assisted the people working at the factory to offload the animal feeds that the machine had mixed into a sack.”
“While working, I realised that there were remnants of animal feed inside the machine and decided to clear the remnants with my hand because that has been the way they usually clear remnants in the machine ever since I got there. Before I put my hand in the machine, I made sure the machine was off and there was no one closer to the switch who could mistakenly switch on the machine.”
“As I was clearing the remnants, one of the staff members, David, switched on the machine while my hand was inside it. I was shouting to him to put it off, but because where the switch was located is far from where the machine is, he kept putting it on and off, maybe out of panic.”
“By the time my hand was eventually removed, I noticed it had been damaged. My colleagues quickly rushed me to the Ijede General Hospital and when I got there, I lost consciousness.”
His distraught 46-year old mother Ajoke said she received the news of his son’s incident while at home and had to rush to Ijede General Hospital.
According to her, Adekunle was transferred to LUTH. She said after Medical personnel attended to him, she was informed the hand had been badly damaged and was told the only option was to cut it off. Adekunle’s hand was later cut off during surgery.
“I was at home when his dad called to inform me that a machine had cut my son’s hand. I was shocked. When I got to the hospital, I realised that his right hand had been bandaged so I could not see it properly. It was until we got to LUTH that I realised that he had sustained a very serious injury,” she said amid tears.
She added Adekunle’s employer, Mrs Dayo Seriki, who is the Managing Director of the company, was contacted to inform her of the incident. She expressed disappointment at the ‘uncaring” attitude of the employer towards Adekunle’s plight.
According to her, every effort by the family to get the company’s management to pay compensation to the victim has proved abortive as she alleged they have been evasive.
“We have been trying to have a meeting with the managing director of the company, but it has not been successful. She was insisting on meeting us at our house but we were advised to give a neutral ground for the meeting. So, we gave her the address of the neutral ground and when she got there and realised it was not our house, she zoomed off and we have not been able to have a meeting with her since then.”
She lambasted the management for abandoning the victim.
“It was their job Adekunle was doing before he had this accident. The MD has not shown enough caring attitude towards the care of my son. She has been behaving as if we are not humans. What happened to my son is a permanent disability. He went to the company with his two hands but came back with one hand. He can not do any work again. If my son had died in the incident, this would have been a different sad story,” she said.
The family is demanding compensation from the company as well as a prosthetic hand for the victim. It has also threatened.legal action against the company if it fails to provide necessary assistance to the victim.
However, while attempting to absolve herself of any blame in the incident, the MD of the company, Mrs. Dayo Seriki, alleged the victim went beyond his duty which resulted in his damaged hand.
He said, “It is not his duty to go and operate the machine; he went there on his own. How can somebody operate a machine without knowing about the machine? When the accident happened, I followed them everywhere and paid all the bills in the hospital. I have all my facts and figures as we never abandoned him.”
“They said I should pay N100m, where will I get it? Do they want to kill me or cut my hand? Kunle Shokunbi is alive and I thank God for that, but if it is his mother that wants to dupe me because something happened to her child as she’s asking for N100m whereas the company is on a plot of land, so where is the money. We are still paying his salary.”
Adekunle’s mother however countered her claim.She insisted her son acted based on the instruction from the MD. She also said Adekunle was only paid salary for the month of April he last worked for the company.
@ Vanguard Newspaper