I suspect co-worker who operated machine that crushed my hand was under drugs influence – Amputated Lagos factory worker
Tell us a bit about yourself.
My name is Adekunle Shokuni. I am 22 years old. I am from Ogun State. I finished secondary school in 2018 and since then I have not been able to further my education because of lack of funds. So, I decided to take up work at a factory to earn some money, save up and return to school. I was working at Spring Feeds Limited, Itamaga, Ikorodu, Lagos State when this unfortunate incident that claimed my right hand occurred. The company makes all types of animal feeds.
What day did the accident happen?
It happened on April 5, 2022. I was originally employed to work as a stock keeper but when the company began to undergo issues with retaining staff and the like, I was told to assume the position of supervisor and my monthly salary was increased from N28,000 to N38,000.
How exactly did the accident happen?
When I got to work that day, we had some unfinished work from the previous day, being Monday. There was a guy that was supposed to be on day duty but he called in sick, so it was obvious that more hands were needed to complete the day’s work. I was meant to be supervising but I opted to join in the production process to make the work move faster. If I were to sit there and my boss came in, she would not take it lightly. She is fond of shouting at workers, and I wouldn’t want to be shouted at. We were at a point in the production process called ‘finisher’.
After that, some feed remnants were left inside the machine, so I had to use my hands to remove them and this cannot be done without the use of hands. As I put my hands into the machine, one of my co-workers, David, turned on the machine and it ground my hands. I felt my bones crush. Before I put my hands in the machine, I made sure there was no one around the switch area. Besides, the machine is at a central place where everyone can what is going on.
We (David and I) were the ones working together. When I saw David turn on the switch, I shouted, “Turn it off! Turn it off!” But David kept fiddling with the switch by turning it off and on. That was how the situation got critical that day because my hand was stuck inside the machine and David was playing with the machine while it was grinding my hands. It was a terrible experience.
Was David unaware that your hand was in the machine?
He cannot say he was unaware. He was very much aware that my hand was inside the machine. As I said earlier, the place I stood was obvious for anybody to see me.
Why then did David turn on the machine when he knew that it was going to hurt you?
The thing is that the guy is a chronic smoker who takes all sorts of hard substances. I am sure he must have been under the influence of some substances when he did that to me.
What was the response of people around to salvage the situation?
I was taken to the Ijede General Hospital. I was even unconscious when I got there. It took the mercies of God for me to be alive till today because I lost a lot of blood. After much consideration, a decision was taken for the remaining part of my hand, which was dangling, to be amputated. It has been quite a traumatising ride for me, having to lose my hand within such a short space of time.
What was the reaction of the company?
Well, they started well.
What do you mean?
All of a sudden, my boss began to lament. She found it difficult putting money on the ground to pay my hospital bills and carter to my well-being. If the doctors asked us to get a particular medication, she would demand for the receipt. She began to complain that I was taking advantage of the situation to defraud her. I am the one who lost an arm and I am the one still being accused of trying to defraud her. She is not asking about my welfare anymore.
She made a lot of promises when this incident happened but she has not fulfilled even one. It is just like I have been abandoned to suffer alone. She changed all of a sudden. After slaving for her for these months, she just wants to leave me now when I need help? She had even promised to get a psychologist and physiotherapist for me who would teach me how to use my left hand since I was right-handed. They also said they would look for a way to compensate me for the damages. But till date, I have not seen anything.
When did you start working at the factory?
I was employed late last year. It is not even up to one year and I have lost one of my hands just because of N38, 000 salary.
How are you coping with the new reality of having one of your hands amputated?
Hmm…Honestly, it seems like my life is gone. The way I thought of myself before now has changed. My self-esteem has been impacted greatly. I cannot even properly think. When I go out, people are always asking me questions, and it makes me feel so terrible. Some people who see me would mock me, saying trash about me, and it gets to me so much. I am a young man. I shouldn’t be going through this.
How about David who you alleged is directly responsible for your predicament?
David is fully aware of all this. He is still a staff of the company as we speak. He was not fired. He was not arrested. He was not questioned. He has since moved on as if nothing happened. I am the one who has lost an arm and has to suffer.
My boss told me that the company would get the guy arrested. But since her company is always short-staffed, she chose to keep him as a staff.
What are your demands?
I want Nigerians to help me out in this situation. I have been rendered incapacitated at this young age, and they are trying to sweep this matter under the carpet because I am poor. Nigerians should come to my aid and help me. My mother has not been herself over these months. You can imagine all she must have gone through at this period. She has become a shadow of herself. It even tells more on her than it is on me. I am all she’s got. I am now permanently disabled for life. I cannot forge ahead without a helping hand. I am just so confused.
Your boss accused your family of trying to defraud her of N100m; where exactly does this come into the picture?
We invited a lawyer who wrote a letter to her to take responsibility and get me a prosthesis for my amputated right hand. We also demanded N40m compensation. The letter was not replied to until the ultimatum given in the letter elapsed. So, the lawyer had to write, informing her to be reasonable so the matter would not go to court, where she might end up spending as much as N100m.
The way the woman (boss) talks to my mother is very bad. She is always thinking that our family is fraudulent because we are poor. But I was the one whose arm is now gone. I need help!