Justice for Richard Gbadebo

I kindly crave the indulgence of every Nigerian, especially Governor Seyi Makinde of Oyo State and, by extension, all relevant stakeholders to rise up in defence of the Gbadebos and every other Nigerian worker who can’t breathe under the suffocation grip of Oluyole Industries foreign owners.

The shocking news of a 21-year-old 300 level student of the University of Ibadan, Richard Gbadebo,  who was said to be involved in a fatal industrial accident at a soap making factory in Ibadan, Oyo State, is a tragedy that brings to bare what many people are going through.

Richard, like other hardworking Nigerian youths, decided to engage in a holiday job having been at home for close to four months as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic that halted academic activities nationwide. He took a casual job with Henkel Industries Limited, makers of WAW detergent, at Oluyole Estate, Ibadan.

He joined his mother, Mrs Abosede Gbadebo, who also works with the company. And he became a victim of infamy and considerable notoriety of foreign employers in industries tagged as unsafe places to work as workers are subjected to reckless, tyrannical and repressive labor laws by foreign owners.

Richard died at work. But his parent’s account of the incident and observation within the premises of the factory, having been invited several hours after the incident had exposed a lot of holes in the company’s narrative. The father confirmed that production and other factory activities continued unhindered despite the sad occurrence and he found it hard to believe the story about his son’s death because his remains had no drop of blood nor was the body bag stained yet, the company claimed that the machine shredded off a larger part of his hands and intestinal organs.

Some questions need to be answered: how did a machine whose height is only scaled through stairs kill a staff by shredding hands and intestine alone, leaving out the head and chest areas? Considering the height of the machine, it would have taken a conscious leap to get into the machine and get killed, upon using the stairs. Why was a inexperienced casual staff left unsupervised with a lethal industrial machine? When the incident occurred, why was he left stock in the belly of the machine for several hours to the point that no blood was left in his body, nor blood stains when the body was unwrapped at the mortuary?

Is his death a conspiracy? I appeal to all well-meaning Nigerians to stand in defence of the Gbadebos in ensuring that justice is served, and by extension kick-start a process by which critical reforms would be initiated so that welfare and safety of Nigerians would be guaranteed in foreign factories across the nation.

 

Segun Adesokan, Ibadan.

 

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