Controversy as Girl, 17, Dies in Chinese Factory in Lagos
By Wisdom Patrick, Lagos
A 17-year-old female juice factory worker, Jennifer Onyeche, and potential student of the Lagos State Polytechnic (LASPOTECH), has died, after allegedly stepping on an electric cable while on duty, in a Chinese owned company at Ketu, Alapere area of Lagos State, South-West Nigeria.
Sources at the Lagos State Police Command Criminal Investigation Department, SCID, Homicide department, in Yaba, told Political Economist that the deceased who has just completed her Senior Secondary School Examination (SSCE), has started processing admission into LASPOTEC. He added that Onyeche, however decided to take up temporary employment with Rotpat Nigeria Limited, a juice factory located at No. 9 Adisa Akintoye Street, off Demurin, Ketu.
It was gathered that her agreed take home pay was N12, 000, per month. “But barely two weeks after she resumed work, she was said to have died on the company’s premises under some mysterious circumstances.”
It was gathered that the deceased died on January 24, and was buried on January 27th, after she was allegedly electrocuted. “However, autopsy reports have since debunked such claims, citing asphyxia as cause of death.”
Effort to speak with officials of the company when our correspondent visited the factory located at No.9 Adisa Akintoye Street, Ketu, yielded no positive result as the main gate into the factory was under lock and key at the time of visit last Monday.
Sources said that the locking of the factory was ordered by both the officials of the Lagos State Environmental Agency and the Police authority in the state.
Speaking to Political Economist at their Alapere residence in Ketu, the deceased’s mother, Mrs. Onyeche, said, “On July 24, at about 12.20pm, four girls knocked at my door and asked if I was Jennifer’s mother and I replied in the affirmative. They told me that my daughter has been electrocuted in the factory.
“One of my co-tenants heard my scream and came out to inquire about what the problem was. I told him and he opted to follow me to the factory to ascertain things. At the factory, we met some of the workers including the secretary who told me that my daughter was fine.
“But when I insisted on seeing her, they told me that they had taken her to General Hospital Gbagada and since my co-tenant had enough money on him, we went to the Gbagada but surprisingly, we did not see my daughter there even though we checked all the wards.”
Thoroughly confused at that point, Mrs. Onyeche said she then called her husband to intimate him on what was happening. He then suggested that they also check the General Hospital in Ikeja, which they did and scoured through the wards futilely as the medical personnel on duty insisted that there was no emergency on that day.
She added, “I called my husband back and he said we should go to Lagos State University Teaching Hospital (LASUTH) and check but we didn’t see her there so we rushed back to the company in Ketu. When we got to the gate, I saw two men there and I held them that they must take me to where they kept my daughter.
“They later agreed and we piled into the car and they drove to Fine Day Hospital at Alapere. The first thing I saw was an ambulance but it never occurred to me that she was dead. We saw the doctor there and he accused the factory men of coming late.
“Then the next words that came out of his mouth was ‘sorry’ and it was then I panicked and it began to sink in that something might have gone wrong. I mustered courage to ask where my daughter was and he pointed at the ambulance. I slumped, out of shock. When I finally came to, I asked to see the person inside the ambulance but they refused.
“Though already, through the glass of the ambulance I was able to identify my daughter’s hair style. Two policemen came over while I was crying and begging them to open the ambulance and then they took us to the Alapere Police Division.
When contacted, the state Police Public Relations Officer, Ngozi Braide, a Deputy Superintendent of Police, said investigation is ongoing. She however debunked claims that the police were aiding and abetting the factory to cover the mystery behind the teenager’s death.
According to her, an autopsy report gotten from the Pathology Department of the Lagos State University Teaching Hospital (LASUTH), as done by Dr. O. O Lawal, stated the cause of death as asphyxia.
She said investigations would unravel the mystery behind her death in the factory because the company had claimed she died of electric shock while the autopsy result shows otherwise.