The family of a Dangote employee, Benedict Etonu, and n Sunday rejected N200,000 compensation paid by its coal mining subsidiary for the excavator operator’s death in a landslide.
The father of seven died when a landslide buried him alive along with two excavators at the coal site located in Awoakpali, Kogi State on Tuesday October 22, 2019.
The mining firm is a subsidiary of the Dangote Group of companies and commenced operation in 2016.
The International Centre for Investigative Reporting (ICIR) had exclusively reported the landslide incident, and how the victim got buried alive with two heavy-duty machines used for excavation, until almost 24 hours when the deceased was found dead.
He was buried the next day – Wednesday October 23.
“They came yesterday (Saturday) and gave us N200, 000 and paid N29, 700 his last salary,” Ferogeh Etonu, the first daughter told The ICIR.
“They also said that my junior sister Faith can replace my father so she can take care of my smaller siblings.”
However, she agonised over the debts left behind by her father including a bank loan yet to be repaid.
“Our father borrowed N50,000 from a cooperative and another N90,000. I don’t know what to do anymore because I still have siblings.”
Faith Etonu, who is 23 years was said to have dropped at Class 2, (Senior Secondary School) due to the inability to pay tuition fees. “She is still at home. We don’t have money for her to resume.”
“I’ll tell you frankly, I am not happy with what they gave my son,” Agagu-Baba Stephen, an uncle to the late Etonu told The ICIR.
“He died while working for them. But is N200, 000 the worth of his life?” he queried.
He said efforts to reject the money during the visit failed because he was stopped by his nephews.
“I wanted to complain right there but my other sons who are graduates but retired civil servants stopped me from talking. They said I don’t know the system Dangote uses to manage their staff.”
When ICIR contacted Awoakpali Community Representative, Fredrick Ahmadu, he acknowledged the visitation.
He said the deceased family was paid N200,000 and the last salary for the month of October which was handled over to the wife.
However, he expressed concern over the amount saying it was too small knowing that the deceased died on duty.
He added that 80 percent of workers at the coal site are casual workers.
“They came yesterday. They also went to our chief. They paid the man’s last salary N29, 700 and gave the wife N200, 000 as compensation over the husband’s death,” says Ahmadu.
“They gave our chief N1, 000, 000. They also promised to employ the daughter.”
The ICIR had earlier called the attention of Dangote Mines to the circumstance of Etonu’s death through the company’s verified Twitter account.
Ahmadu recalled how the company was persuaded to visit the deceased’s family after burial but never turned up until yesterday.
“We told them to come and sympathise with the family, even if they are not ready for compensation but they refused,” he said.
Also present at the meeting were vice-chairman of the community and two elders.
•Proto shows Benedict Etonu’s corpse being removed from the pit