Nigeria sometimes is like the Hunger Games, especially if you’re not part of the upper-class, with everything trying very hard to kill you. If you manage to survive the roads crawling with kidnappers, you’ll probably fall victim to police brutality. And now, due to the economy, almost everyone is one medical emergency away from poverty.
We’re two weeks into 2023, and unfortunately, we may need to add electric distribution companies to the list of things trying to kill us.
On January 11, 2023, a lady on Twitter, Yetunde (@Divayetty1), called out the Electricity Distribution Companies (DisCos) in Lagos: Ikeja Electric (IKEDC) and Eko Electricity Distribution Company (EKEDC) for negligence that could have cost her life. A live wire from an electric pole knocked her unconscious, severely burning her in the process.
This has happened before
This isn’t the first time an accident of this nature has occurred; the only difference is that the other victim didn’t live to tell the tale. In September 2015, a 300-level student of the University of Lagos (UNILAG) was electrocuted to death by a live wire which also fell from an electric pole. It’s revolting that it’s eight years after this terrible incident, and DisCos still haven’t found a way to prevent these things from happening.
There are many options available to victims in cases like this, one of them is suing the companies for negligence, so they know to take extra precautions to keep people from avoidable danger.
How to sue for negligence?
This isn’t as complex as it seems. You’ll need to employ the services of a lawyer and filean action in court. You would have to pay some filing fees, and the case will be filed at the court’s registry. After this, a copy of the court documents and processes will be served to the offending party.
Now it is important to remember that you’ll need to prove that negligence occurred, and this is done in three simple steps:
- You must prove the existence of duty of care: in simple terms, like in the case of the live wires, you should show beyond a doubt that the electric poles were under the supervision of the DisCos.
- You must show a breach of that duty of care: proof that the DisCos failed in their responsibilities regarding the maintenance of the electric poles.
- You must prove damage resulting from that breach: lastly, you must show that you were hurt due to the negligence.
However, if you’re sceptical, people have filed negligence suits against companies in Nigeria and come out smiling to their banks.
Mr McDonald Egejuru vs Niger Construction Limited
In 2019, Mr Egejuru filed a negligence case against Niger Construction Ltd. He claimed the company failed to provide a safe space for him to carry out his official duties.
As the company’s accountant, in 2015, he was given the sum of ₦5 million to pay workers in two work sites. While he was at the site in Otuasege, Bayelsa State, armed robbers attacked, killed the only police escort attached to him, and shot him in the lungs. This incident left him in excruciating pain and a life-threatening condition. However, the company terminated his contract and left him to foot his medical bills in the middle of all that.
What was the judgement?
Although the company claimed to have taken necessary precautions to ensure his safety, the court found them guilty of negligence. They were asked to pay about ₦19 million to cover his medical bills and damages.
So really, maybe it’s time for more Nigerians to take a leap of faith when addressing these kinds of issues. Perhaps companies will begin to take special care when ensuring their products and services are safe.