Alexander Okere, Benin
The family of a teenager, Benedict Sani, who was electrocuted in the Uhunmwonde Local Government Area of Edo State, on Friday blamed the death of their son on the alleged negligence of the Benin Electricity Distribution Company.
The father of the deceased, Pius, also said that he had aspired to become a Catholic priest on completion of his secondary education.
The late Benedict, a JSS 3 pupil of Eyaen Secondary School, had on Thursday died after making contact with a faulty electric pole belonging to the BEDC along the Benin-Auchi expressway.
The pole, bearing high-tension cables around Eyaen Primary School, was said to have been damaged when a vehicle rammed into it on Monday.
The 13-year-old boy, who was the only son of his parents, was said to have touched a metal rod that had been exposed due to the damage and was instantly electrocuted, leaving him burnt beyond recognition.
The development was said to have sparked a protest by angry pupils and residents, who blamed the BEDC for allegedly failing to fix the pole.
It was learnt that the protest, which grounded traffic on the road, turned violent before the intervention of the Enogie of Eyaen, Dr. Aiwerioghene Iduriase.
One of the protesters was also alleged to have been shot dead and another injured by police operatives deployed to the scene.
However, Pius, who hails from Kachia Local Government Area of Kaduna State, said the family had yet to recover from shock occasioned by the death of his son.
He explained, “Someone called me saying that she was the principal of Eyaen Secondary School and told me that my son had a serious accident. On my way to the place, the driver that took me told me that my son was burnt.
“He even refused to collect money from me, saying that I had lost something more than money. When I got to the scene, I checked and confirmed that he (deceased) was my son.
“In fact, I was shocked because I did not expect it. My son left home early that day for school, expecting that I would seen him; he did not come back home.”
The distraught parent, who earned a living as an automobile electrician to cater for his wife and four children, said that his late son was a devout Christian, who was dedicated to his service to God, as an altar server, and his academic studies.
“He (Benedict) told me that he wanted to become a reverend father because he was an altar server at St. Mary’s Catholic Church,” he added.
He further noted that though the bereaved family had yet got any response from the management of the company, the deceased would be buried at the end of police investigations.
Pius said, “Nobody has come from the BEDC. The police could not come because of the angry boys in the areas. Even some soldiers who came with a vehicle narrowly escaped because they were stoned.
“Well, it was the carelessness of the BEDC because it was supposed to take an action to repair the pole. But it did not. Even the driver that hit the pole was arrested and he paid for the pole. But that was how it ended.
“It was BEDC’s negligence that killed my son. Well, I give thanks to God. We are waiting for the commissioner of police so that we will know what can be done.”
When our correspondent visited the scene of the incident on Friday, the damaged pole had been cordoned off by officials of the local government council in order to prevent a recurrence.
One of the officials, who did not want to be named, wondered why the equipment had not been fixed since the driver, who was arrested by the police, allegedly paid the sum of N120,000 for the damage.
Speaking with Southern City News at his palace in Benin on Friday, the Enogie stated that the tragedy would have been averted if the Disco had been proactive.
Iduriase, however, commiserated with the family of the deceased.
He said, “The BEDC officials could not respond on time. This kind of incident happens all over Nigeria. If they had responded on time, maybe that child would have been alive.
“They should always respond on time. It would be better for us not to have power supply for days than to see a human being die.”
When contacted, the management of the distribution company said that it would conduct an investigation to unravel the circumstances surrounding the incident.
The Head of Corporate Affairs of the BEDC, Mr. Tayo Adekunle, said, “Essentially, we are still trying to get a full report of what actually happened from our field officers. Once we get the full report, a full-scale investigation will be launched into the matter.
“The outcome of the investigation will determine the next line of action by the management. What I can say is that the affected area has been disconnected from (electricity) supply.”
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