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Man Electrocuted Three Days to Wedding

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The grieving family members of Bright Ekene Abunwaeze, an employee of the Benin Electricity Distribution Company (BEDC), who was electrocuted three days to his wedding, have demanded that the Inspector General of Police (IGP), Mr. Suleiman Abba should constitute an investigative team to look into the death of their son. The family alleged a foul play, insisting that Bright was cleverly set up and made to mount the electric pole before someone in BEDC’s office, who ought to know better, for reasons yet unknown, suddenly switched on the power supply in the area, instantly electrocuting the deceased.
The family said that the person who called the BEDC’s Control Room, instructing that power should be switched on, should be fished out. Bright, 35, had already sent out his wedding invitations and was putting finishing touches to his wedding day plans when his death occurred. The victim was said to have concluded necessary arrangement to get married last year December 27, but postponed it to February 14. Mr. Hillary Abunwaeze, younger brother to Bright, said: “Bright went to fix a faulty cable at the Nnebisi Road in Asaba, Delta State capital, when he was killed. They said it was a routine maintenance.”
Apparently, what pained the family members the most was the realisation that Bright’s late father, an official of the defunct National Electric Power Authority (NEPA), also died on duty eight years ago. Hillary, recalling how their father died, said: “My father was also on duty in the same company, but under the defunct NEPA eight years ago when he died. He had already completed his night duty and handed over to another driver. He was suddenly called back by the management to come and convey a Disconnection Team to Ibusa, a neighbouring town to Asaba, in Oshimili North Local Government Area of the state. In the process, he was shot by armed robbers who ambushed the team.”
Hillary said that Bright died on February 11, 2015, around 8:30pm. Shocked and bewildered family members and friends besieged the BEDC’s office, allegedly to set it on fire, but police arrested five of them. Omolola Oniawa, an eyewitness, recounted: “We saw three BEDC staff when they came with a Hilux van around 8:00 p.m.
One of them brought down their ladder and mounted the pole. He got to the top and started working. A few minutes later, we saw light sparking on top of the pole. Before we knew what was happening, the man was electrocuted! The high current sustained him on top of the pole for a while before he fell down. He was baked by the electric voltage. Smoke started emitting out of his nostrils, ears and head.” The gory sight of Bright’s lifeless body and the fear of mob attack immediately caused his colleagues on the assignment to momentarily disappear from the scene.
They however came back later. The victim was rushed to nearby St. Joseph’s Catholic Hospital, but he was rejected. The hospital said it wanted to see a worker of BEDC with the corpse of the deceased, but none was allegedly around. Hillary said: “After three hours, we decided to take Bright friend’s car to move the body to the Federal Medical Centre (FMC), Asaba. Since there was no worker of the company on ground, the senior policeman on the patrol team accompanied us. The policeman made the entry which was countersigned by me.” Dissatisfied with Bright’s demise, his kinsmen, in a three-page petition, dated February 13, 2915, routed via the Commissioner of Police in the state, Alhaji Baba Usman Alkali, prayed Abba to unravel the circumstances surrounding the untimely death of their son. The petitioners alleged that the operator in the Control-Room and the dispatcher on duty, should be investigated, for they should be able to give detailed account of what transpired on that fateful day.
According to Hillary, the driver on duty who accompanied Bright confirmed that he was the one who positioned the ladder on the pole and even used the ladder to throw up the wires to see if there would be a spark, indicating that there was power outage on the lines before the deceased mounted. The driver of BEDC reportedly said: “Bright had already commenced work on top of the pole and had stayed for 15 minutes before the sudden powering of the tension wires.” The petitioners said: “This sudden powering of power indicated a setup, conspiracy and witch-hunting.” The deceased family is also angry that BEDC management ordered policemen to mount sentry and started intimidating them.
“Some of us were brutally horsewhipped and tear gassed. Five of our relatives, who were being sheltered by the deceased, including Mr. Godwin Abunwaeze, his uncle who stands as his step father were arrested, alleged Hillary.” The BEDC’s Asaba Business District Public Relation Officer, Mrs. Esther Okolie, denied the alleged brutalization of Bright’s family members, maintaining that the victim’s death was a big loss to the company as he was one of the company’s dedicated staff. Okolie, however, assured that investigation was ongoing to unravel how a high-tension wire that was without current could just kill a worker, explaining that Control- Room confirmed that the line was ‘dead’ before the deceased mounted the pole to effect the repair. Delta State Police Command’s Police Public Relation Officer (PPRO), DSP Celestina Kalu confirmed that five members of the deceased family were detained over alleged attempt to set the district office of the company on fire. The home of the deceased had been plunged into mourning instead of the happy wedding celebration they had been breathlessly awaiting. A friend of Bright, Mr. Sam Anukwu, lamented: “Bright and his elder sister were compensated with employment in BEDC because of their father’s gruesome death while he was a worker there. I don’t think anyone in the family will accept any job offer with BEDC as compensation anymore.”

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