A worker with Bedmate Furniture Company, Magboro, Ogun State, William Ekanem, is in pain after his spinal bone was allegedly damaged by his Chinese boss, identified as Master W
PUNCH Metro learnt that Master Wan, who is skilled in kung fu, had demanded to see a bag of rice which Ekanem bought from a foodstuffs seller, identified as Iya Melo, on the premises of the company.
After forcefully checking the content, Ekanem said he was leaving when Master Wan allegedly gave him a kick in the back, which sent him sprawling on the ground.
The suspect was said to have stamped his foot on the victim before he was rescued by some other workers on the premises.
It was gathered that since the incident, Ekanem had not been able to walk well or stand straight.
The victim said although the case was reported at the Ibafo Police Station, the Divisional Crime Officer allegedly took a N50,000 bribe from the Chinese company.
He was said to have backed the company against the Uyo, Akwa Ibom State indigene, who was accused of exaggerating the assault.
“I joined the company on January 7, 2007 and rose to become a foreman, overseeing black workers in a department of the company. Despite working for long, my salary is only N34,000. I don’t have an identity card and I am not a member of staff just like the rest of the over 300 workers at the company.
“Sometime in April 2017, I approached the foodstuffs seller on the premises to give me rice and groundnut oil on credit pending when we would be paid our salaries at the end of the month.
“I was taking the foodstuffs to the office when Master Wan demanded to know what was inside the bag. Because he didn’t understand English, I simply said, ‘rice, chop-chop’.
“He dipped his fingers into the sack and checked it. I protested against the action. He hit me in the chest as I collected my bag from him. I was walking away when he suddenly gave me a kung fu kick from the back. I fell. He charged at me with his foot and pinned me to the ground. I lay on the floor and started groaning with pain as some people came to drag him away from me.”
He said he was thereafter taken to a private hospital in the Arepo area, where he was given an injection.
PUNCH Metro learnt that the company gave Ekanem N10,000 for his medical expenses, while the company’s Nigerian manager, identified only as Lekan, assured the hospital that Bedmate would pay for all the expenses.
He was said to have been asked to go home by the doctor, who said a specialist would be contacted to treat him.
Upon Ekanem’s return to the hospital the following Monday, it was learnt that the result of a test he did showed his spinal cord had “shifted”.
The doctor reportedly gave him a list of drugs and asked him to take time off to rest.
The victim said the pain,, however, aggravated as he could no longer sleep.
Around that time, Ekanem’s pregnant wife reportedly gave birth.
“I went to the company to collect my N34,000 salary. When I got there, they gave me N24,000 and said they had removed the N10,000 they gave me for my feeding and treatment at the hospital.. I broke down in tears at the company. I could not believe they could treat me so shabbily. I left in anger. I was thinking about the situation on the road when I slumped,” he added.
He said together with a friend and some rights activists, the case was reported at the Ibafo Police Station.
PUNCH Metro was told that the Ibafo DCO detailed two policemen to join Ekanem in arresting the Chinese man at the company on that Friday.
Master Wan, however, reportedly fled and went into hiding on sighting the policemen at the company.
The policemen were said to have been kept waiting for over two hours on the company premises as Lekan, the Nigerian manager, reprimanded Ekanem for inviting the police.
“When it was getting dark, Lekan promised to bring Master Wan to the station by 10am the following Monday. He followed us back to the station and promised the DCO that he would personally bring the man. He gave the DCO N50,000 in our presence,” the victim said.
By 8am on Monday, Lekan, the Chinese head of the company and others arrived at the station without the suspect.
Ekanem said he was called by his brother, who asked him to hurry to the station.
The DCO allegedly supported the company and scolded Ekanem’s brother for not resolving the issue amicably.
“I started crying. I told him that if I were his son, would he say such a thing to me? Shortly after, the Chinese head asked me and my brother to excuse them. As we were stepping out, I sighted him giving the DCO another envelope.
“Our lawyer arrived shortly after and started an argument with them. The lawyer threatened to report the DCO to the Area Command and transfer the case from the division,” the 27-year-old added.
It was learnt that the police later referred the victim to another private facility, Divine Touch Hospital, Ibafo.
Lekan, the Nigerian manager, was alleged to have pressured Ekanem to drop the case, saying he could not fight the Chinese company due to his poor background.
He was reportedly abandoned at the hospital for two weeks, as the police and the company refused to care for him.
The matter was subsequently transferred to the Sagamu Area Command.
Ekanem was said to have been referred for further checks and treatment at the General Hospital, Owode.
The company’s lawyer, Ayo Durojaiye, later said the company had decided to give the victim N134,000.
“The lawyer said it was because I was hungry that I looked malnourished. He said the company had instructed that I should spend N100,000 on my feeding, and take N34,000 as my salary. He said I could return to work afterwards. My lawyer disagreed with him and expressed disgust over my treatment,” he added.
Ekanem’s lawyer, Felix Emeruwa, demanded an apology from the company and payment of N50m compensation.