The death of 13-year-old Benedict, arising from avoidable electrocution is one impunity too many by the Benin Electricity Distribution Company (BEDC). PATRICK AHANOR reports
Ambition to become Catholic Priest
When Pius Sani bade his son, Benedict goodbye, as the latter proceed for school penultimate Thursday, he had hoped to reunite with his only son from a family of four at midday.
Besides, Benedict Sani, a JSS student of Eyean Senior Secondary School, in Uhumwode local government area of Edo state had shared his dreams of how he intended to become a Catholic priest on completion of his secondary education.
The teenager’s aspiration is perhaps rooted in the fact that at 13, he was already a devout Christian and dedicated to his service to God as an altar server on one hand and his studies.
Faulty electricity facility
However, that hope has been shattered following his electrocution to death by a faulty electricity facility belonging to the Benin Disco facility at the close of school last week Thursday.
Benedict like many other students of the school had closed from school and where waiting on the roadside to board the state- owned Edo City Transport Service vehicle which offers free transportation for public school students.
The lad, (Benedict) apparently exhausted from standing under the scorching sun while waiting the Bus arrival, took some steps back, lean on a broken electricity pole bearing high-tension cables, unknown to him that some unseen high-tension cables in the pole was electrified.
And in a moment, the unexpected happened; as he was immediately electrocuted and burnt beyond recognition.
Investigation by our correspondent revealed that a truck had crashed into the electricity pole, causing it to fall 72 hours before the tragic incident.
Nonetheless, residents in the community it was learnt had immediately apprehended the truck driver and handed him over to the police, while repeated contact was made to the electricity company to draw their attention to the danger posed by the fallen electricity pole.
The avoidable tragedy no doubt left a huge vacuum in the heart of his father, Pius Sani who wept uncontrollably on seeing the remains of his beloved son burnt beyond recognition.
“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 (driver) 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.
“I was shocked because I did not expect it. My son left home early that day for school, expecting that I would see him; he did not come back home,” Pius said.
The tragedy nonetheless also left in its wake protest as students and angry residents took to the Benin-Auchi Highway to protest what they termed BEDC’s negligence.
The protest caused traffic gridlocks even as some cars were alleged to have been touched by the rampaging protesters.
Some security operatives deployed to the scene to main law and order had a hectic time in restoring order, just as there was reported clashes between the personnel and the protesters.
The distraught parent who hails from Kachi in Kaduna state further lamented that officials of the electricity company was yet to pay them a condolence visit, adding that his son would be buried at the end of police investigation.
According to him, “Nobody has come from the BEDC. The police could not come because of the angry boys in the area”.
“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,” Pius added.
Enogie (Duke) of the community, HRH. Osazuwa Iduriase, lamented that the teenager’s death would have been avoided if the electricity company was proactive.
“It will be better for us not to have electricity supply for days than to see human life being lost,” Iduriase said.
Head of Corporate Affairs of BEDC, Mr. Tayo Adekunle, said the company is still waiting “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 because 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,” Adekule states.
Be that as it may, one major hard lesson (with respect to Sani’s family) is that the impunity of Benin Disco has again been brought to the fore.
Only time will tell, if the company would begin to relate with members of the public/customers as partners in progress.