ASCAB wants justice for boy allegedly killed by Henkel and Expand Global Industry group
By Kayode Alo
Alliance for Surviving COVID-19 and Beyond, (ASCAB) has called for justice for Richard Gbadebo a middle aged man whose death has been linked to managers of two companies.
Gbadebo was said to have been killed due to negligence caused by managers of Henkel Nigeria Ltd and Expand Global Industries Ltd.
Foremost labour leader Mr Femi Aborisade in a letter signed for ASCAB and ILAW in behalf of the family of the diseased sent to the Attorney General of Oyo State asked the authorities to prosecute the managers of the two companies located in Ibadan, the Oyo State capital.
The ASCAB petition is supported by the International Lawyers Assisting Workers (ILAW) Network, Nigeria Chapter. ILAW has chapters in 58 countries
The group wants the Oyo State Government to thoroughly investigate the circumstances surrounding the death of Richard said to be the only
son in the family and a 300-level student in the Department of European Studies.
The urge to assist the family finances was said to have pushed the late Richard to accept to work to earn some income during the COVID-19 lockdowns involving stay at home of students
ASCAB and ILAW accuse the companies of responsibility for the death of Richard Gbadebo through their failure to observe duty of care in respect the diseased who died on Tuesday, the 28th day of July 2020, in the course of working for the two companies.
Expand Global Industries Ltd is a laundry and home care company, producing WAW and nittol detergents, located at Plot 9, Oluyole Industrial Estate, Ibadan, Oyo State.
In 2016, Henkel acquired 57.5% shareholding in the company.
The groups said in a late July press release Expand Global Services admitted the fact of the death of Richard Gbadebo “at our Ibadan plant.”
The groups said “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.”
It said that 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.
Gbadebo, was said to be on a night shift duty on 27th July, scheduled for the period between 6pm and 7am but that 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 health official tested her blood pressure and informed her that she had high Blood Pressure (BP). She was said to have been taken to Zoe Hospital around the companies’ premises where she was admitted.
According to the groups, she was not allowed to see the corpse of her son.
“The mother called her husband, Mr. Olusola Gbadebo who got to the companies’ premises around 7.30am.
The family of late Gbadebo briefed us that the callousness and utter lack of exercise of the duty of care were extended by the agents of both companies on the 28th day of July 2020 to the family of diseased.
It was claimed that when the father of the late Richard got to the joint premises of the companies, nobody officially received him and that 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 12noon and taken to Teju Hospital, Ring Road, Ibadan, between the hours of 1-2pm on the 28th day of July 2020. For undisclosed reasons, the two companies delayed taking the corpse for an autopsy until today, 3rd day of August 2020.”
The groups said “Indeed, the agents of the two companies initially resisted the presence of any representative of the family while taking the corpse for an autopsy. The companies’ agents conceded only upon protests by the family.”
Whereas the family has never discussed any issue about monetary compensation with the companies, said the groups, the family is surprised and embarrassed to read statements in the media, which tend to trivialize the murder of their son. The statements are attributed to one Aliyu Jibril, the Human Resource Manager of Expand Global Industries Ltd, who is alleged to have said that the companies have “reached out to compensate the family of the deceased”.
The groups said no official explanation as to the circumstances leading to the death of Richard has been made to the family. The family only gathered from Richard’s colleagues that he slipped and fell into the bowel of the machinery he was working with. That the machinery is meant to be operated by at least four persons. But that Richard was the only person operating the machine at the time of the incident.”
The colleagues who were outside the engine room claimed they noticed blood mixed with water where only water was supposed to flow out.
“The blood alerted them and they went to check the machine only to find Richard trapped in the machine. However, upon the retrieval of the corpse on 28th July 2020, at about 12noon, the stomach was sliced open, his trousers and boot were on and the head was intact but without any trace of blood on his body. The family of Richard is perplexed at the strange observations made when the agents of the companies brought out their son from the factory.”
The Attorney General of Oyo State is invited to invoke and act upon Section 211(1) & (3) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999, as amended, and institute criminal proceedings against the two companies.