Electricity like water is everybody’s friend but like the hungry dog that can bite its owner, electricity is one of the man’s worst enemy if not handled properly.
Of course this was the case of young Francis Okebata who today is going through excruciating pains despite huge medical bills paid to save his life.
The agony of young Okebata goes beyond the physical wounds and burns he sustained in the course of the accident. He goes through deep seated pains over the neglect he had suffered from those responsible for his pitiable condition.
And until last week and despite attempts by his parents to prevail on Power Holding Company of Nigeria (PHCN) to take care of his hospital bills the company has not appeared talkless of compensation.
Young Okebata never knew that he would be on the sick bed for six months. The happy lad had left home on that fateful day in June to visit his father, a supplier and contractor at the site of Admiralty Fleet a company located at the Eastern Bye Pass Port Harcourt when he almost met his death.
The Sunday Tide gathered that an accident had occurred at about 9p.m on the 16th of June 2009, at the Admiralty Fleet premises, where a Mercedez benz car Model 230E with registration number AL325 ENU had hit a PHCN high tension electric pole.
The pole was said to have crashed on the fence of the plot destroying office equipment of all the secuirty and reception office of the company.
According to eye witnesses, when the accident occurred, the driver of the said car had reported to the police authorities and PHCN over the damage done to both the high tension as well as the properties of the company.
The driver of the Mercedez car it was gathered was asked to replace the damaged electric pole as well as the properties of the company, which he did.
Sunday Tide gathered that after the driver had settled the PHCN authorities, and a new pole bought, but the field officials did a poor job.
One Mr. Sunny Israel who witnessed the incident told Sunday Tide the gory tale, “it was the PHCN officials that caused the accident,” he stated.
Mr Israel owns Ben Energy and Marine Services, contractors operating in the area recalled that before the incident occurred he had called on the PHCN workers not to remove the vehicle which the damaged pole leaned on, until they have finished replacing the high tension wire on the new pole, but they refused.
Unfortunately it was while they were pulling out the vehicle that the high tension wire cut off and fell on the 14 year old boy.
Safe by the grace of God and the quick intervention of some good workers within the vicinity the boy would have died.
With the heavy fire that ensued as the wire fell young Okebata seared severe burns, which medical attendants described as first degree burns.
He was quickly rushed to St. Patrick’s Hospital, Ogbunabali where he was admitted and still receiving treatment till a month ago, when the doctors asked him to go since he could not pay his medical bills any longer.
Eye witnesses to the accident blamed officials of PHCN for the cause of the incident following their lackadaisical and careless attitude on the discharge of their duties due to selfish interest.
An eyewitness further told the Sunday Tide that prior to the shabby work the company officials conducted, an argument had broken out between them, as to how much each would get from the booty given by the driver of the vehicle.
Lamenting his ordeal after the incident, Mr. Ferdinand Okebata said all attempts to prevail on PHCN and police to look into the matter had failed.
Mr Okebata remarked, “the first day I reported the matter to the SCIB at Moscow Road and they arrested the car owner who damaged the pole, but the man was finally released since he had paid for the damaged pole.”
Worried over the attitude of the police young Okebata’s father petitioned to the Commissioner of Police urging further investigation into the matter.
Aside the poor response of police to his plight, Mr Okebata also decried the attitude of PHCN, “I wonder whether PHCN in above the law. I want to know who bailed them without my knowledge.”
The most painful part of the story was that the Ibo businessman has spent N1.5 million to save the life of his son, yet young Okebata is not fully recovered.
His father told Sunday Tide that the 14 year old boy sometimes suffers from strange convulsion due to the heavy electrocution he suffered during the accident.
When The Sunday Tide visited the resident at Rumuoemeni the boy looked worn out with lesions all over him. He spoke in a tiny voice and could not recalled all that happened that fateful day.
Moreso, his father The Sunday Tide that his little boy had missed school for about five months now. “He is supposed to write the Junior School (JSS 3) exams,” Okebata declared with a tinge of tears in his eyes.
When The Sunday Tide paper sought the view of the Police Public Relations Officer on the matter, Mrs Rita Inowa-Abbey responded that there was little they could to assist Okebata to get compensation.
“Negligence is a bailable offence,” Mrs Abbeys said, “and I would urge him to sue PHCN to court if he wants to get redress because the police can prevail on PHCN it is only the courts that can do so.”
The Rivers State Police spokeswoman while expressing regret over the incidence on the other hand warned members of the public to beware of parking their vehicles under high tension wires.
She was of the view that since accident can occur at anytime, the public should be safety conscious especially when they are close to electric facilities.
Nevertheless, in a bid to prevail on PHCN to compensate him, Mr Okebata told Sunday Tide that he would sue the company to court for negligence.
“I am pissed off with the attitude of PHCN because since that incident happened and I reported to them no PHCN official or police have come to the scene of the incident neither the hospital where my son was hospitalised for more than 4 months,” he decried.