…police investigate bribery claim
Bedmate Furniture Company has faulted the allegations of a worker with the firm, William Ekanem, that his immediate boss, Master Wan, crippled him with kung fu kicks.
The company said Ekanem, who allegedly had a history of stealing property of the company, was blackmailing the firm.
Bedmate explained that he was caught a few weeks to the incident with some celotapes, a claim that Ekanem denied.
It added that a medical report from Beachland Specialist Hospital, Arepo, indicated that the 27-year-old only had pains in some parts of his body after falling during a scuffle with Master Wan, who wanted to search him.
PUNCH Metro had reported that Ekanem had bought some foodstuffs on the premises of the company when he was confronted by his Chinese boss, Master Wan, who asked to see the content of the bag.
After forcefully checking the bag, the victim was allegedly given a kick in the back by the Chinese, who also stamped his foot on his chest.
Ekanem was taken to Beachland Specialist Hospital, Arepo, before he was admitted to Divine Touch Hospital, Ibafo, where he was treated for two weeks.
Our correspondent reported that the Ibafo Divisional Crime Officer allegedly collected N50,000 bribe and another envelope from the company to deny the victim justice.
The case was then transferred to the Area Command, Sagamu, from where it was transferred to the Zone 2 Police Command, Onikan, Lagos State.
PUNCH Metro also reported that some Nigerians berated the Ibafo DCO for allegedly collecting bribe, calling for the arrest of Master Wan.
On Monday, the Managing Director of Bedmate Furniture Company, David Pan; and the company’s lawyer, Ayo Durojaye, during a visit to PUNCH Place, Magboro, said Ekanem was painting the company in bad light in order to extort money from it.
Durojaiye noted that Ekanem had a history of stealing, which made Master Wan suspicious of him on the day of the incident.
He said, “Ekanem is a foreman with Bedmate Furniture. Three or four weeks to the incident, he had a case of stealing. He stole some big celotapes. He was caught at the gate by the security men and was reported to the factory manager.
“It was Master Wan who begged for him to be pardoned. The celotapes were collected from him.
“It was after this incident that he was seen with a bag in the factory. Master Wan asked him what was in the bag. He refused to open the bag. The man struggled with him, but he refused to open the bag till the end of work that day.
“He went to keep the bag in his drawer and locked it. While they were dragging the bag, he fell and he continued with his work that day.”
Durojaiye explained that the victim, who showed up in the office the following day, suddenly disappeared on the third day, claiming that he was ill due to the fall.
The lawyer said the company’s Nigerian manager, Lekan, advised him to go to the company’s hospital, Beachland Specialist Hospital, for treatment.
“He went there and was treated. He didn’t show up in the office again. The next thing the company saw was that he had gone to the Ibafo Police Station to report the case. The police investigated his claim and discovered that he was not saying the truth.
“I went to the station with Master Wan. The DCO of Ibafo station called him and asked what he wanted. He said he wanted the company to pay him off. We agreed with him, but some human rights people said they wanted settlement and they would want their lawyer to be involved.
“Later, the lawyer requested N50m compensation and threatened to take further action,” he added.
He said the case was transferred to the Area Command, where Ekanem was asked to go for a test at the Olabisi Onabanjo University Teaching Hospital, but refused and went to the General Hospital, Owode.
He added that the deputy to the Area Commander read the test result, which also showed that the victim was in good condition.
“One Moses later called and said they would collect N15m.
“He is a casual worker. Nobody forced him to take the job. Many people are queuing up at the gate. He collects a minimum of N34,000 per month and there are times that the money could be as high as N60,000 if he meets his target.
“I took N134,000 to him because the company gave him N100,000 for feeding and N34,000 as his salary,” he said.
When our correspondent asked about the N10,000 deducted from the victim’s salary as part of expenses for his feeding and treatment, Durojaiye said Ekanem requested that the money be deducted from his salary at the end of the month.
“This is a clear case of extortion. There is a co-worker that saw this boy at Ibafo walking normally. Ekanem told the worker that he needed the money and that he was merely pretending,” he added.
The company’s MD, Pan, said Master Wan was a worker of the company, adding that the firm was considering suing Ekanem for blackmail.
He explained that the company had been in Nigeria for the past 15 years without any blemish, saying if Ekanem had a genuine case, the firm would have settled him.
He said, “The truth is the case is two guys fighting. We have been here for 15 years. If we were this bad, would we have stayed this long?”
However, a worker with the company, told PUNCH Metro that the Chinese man kicked the victim.
The worker, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said Master Wan and Ekanem were friends, but fell out after a minor disagreement.
He said, “He actually struggled with Master Wan and the Chinese man got injured in the chest. Ekanem was leaving when the man gave him the kick in the back. He fell and started crying; he could not stand up again.”
When our correspondent contacted Ekanem, he denied the company’s allegations.
He said, “I didn’t steal any celotape. Master Wan gave me the celotapes. They accused me of stealing them and I called Master Wan, who told them that he gave me the two celotapes and I was released.
“On the day he beat me up, it was workers at the company that saved me. He kicked me and I fell.
“I went to the hospital that day around 1pm. A worker in the factory, Tonton, held me by the hand and took me in a vehicle to the hospital.
“The second day, I could not stand and my wife called the firm that I was bedridden and they said I should be taken back to the hospital and that was how I returned to Beachland hospital.
“Four of my colleagues came to tell me that the Chinese company paid them to video me in the house and see how I was doing.
“I can’t still sleep at night and I can’t afford my medical bills. I am in pain and I hope it is not when I die that they will know that I am telling the truth.”
The victim told our correspondent that two policemen from the State Criminal Investigation and Intelligence Department, Abeokuta, visited and interviewed him about the bribery allegation against the Ibafo DCO.
He explained that after taking his statements, the policemen also took his photographs.
A source within the Ogun State Government said the state Ministry of Women Affairs would soon visit the victim, adding that the government would intervene if mediation failed.
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