Lawyer Petitions Airtel, as  Inferno Kills  One , Injures Others 

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A human rights lawyer, Dr. Olubunmi Odeniyi has petitioned major telecom service provider, Airtel Networks Limited over the inferno which engulfed its base station at Ikotun, Lagos killing one Chidi Emmanuel while inflicting “severe life-changing burns” on four others.

In a letter dated 2nd April, 2024, Odeniyi stated that the lives of the victims who were passers-by and residents of the area “are presently at grave risk and danger.”

Noting that the telecoms giant has not offered any assistance to the victims since the incident on March 19, Odeniyi demanded “that Airtel Networks Limited must immediately fly all our Four (4) Clients together with an assistant each to the UK or the USA to the best burns center available abroad and pay all medical and incidental fees.”

Titled “EGREGIOUS NEGLIGENCE OF YOUR COMPANY CAUSING FIRE AND EXPLOSION AND RESULTING IN SEVERE LIFE-CHANGING BURNS TO FOUR (4) VICTIMS ON TUESDAY, 19 MARCH, 2024: DEMAND FOR URGENT MEDICAL REMEDIATION AND COMPENSATION TO FOUR (4) VICTIMS,” the letter was addressed to the Managing Director of Airtel Networks Limited and received by the company on 3rd April, 2024.

Aside from Emmanuel who was killed by the explosion, Feranmi Nureni Oluwatoba, Saheed Adeleke, Franklin Obade and Saheed Raji were badly burnt during the incident.

The human rights activist stated that the telecoms giant abandoned the victims without any medical care, saying: “Our instruction is that your agents and/or privies, a welder and a diesel supplier negligently executed the tasks given to them by you and in the process, a huge fire explosion ensued at and around the BTS which severely burnt our said Clients who are innocent passers-by and residents of the community to the point where their lives are presently at grave risk and danger.

“This unfortunate incident has caused great discomforts, apprehension, pain, suffering and distress, not only to the victims but to their families who have little or no means to attend to their sudden but urgent medical treatments.

“Our further instruction from our Clients is that your company, despite being aware of the incident through your guard on duty at the BTS, have not showed up at the scene nor interacted with our Clients to the end of bringing succour to their medical and psychological distresses.

“The little financial efforts our Clients could muster have not engendered the vital and urgent responses that the situation warrants from you.”

The senior lawyer demanded that if the telecoms company was not willing to fly the victims abroad for medical care, it should avail them with the “cost of medical assistance of their choice and discretion abroad including skin-grafting and plastic surgery” as well as compensation for loss or reduction of life prospects.

Though the telecoms service provider was asked to “enter into an immediate commitment or undertaking to one of the pathways offered above in items 1 and 2 WITHIN SEVEN (7) DAYS of the date this letter,” it has shunned all entreaties to provide medical assistance to the victims.

It was gathered that a last-ditch effort by the human rights activist to meet with the company’s legal team or the chief executive officer in a desperate bid to obtain urgent medical care for the victims was rebuffed by the company.

The senior lawyer however warned the telecoms giant to “TAKE NOTICE that your BTS at the said location is a potential crime scene for investigation of criminal negligence resulting in the death of one MR. CHIDI EMMANUEL who died from his severe burns at Gbagada General Hospital in addition to the grievous wounds inflicted on our Clients. Any continued operation of the BTS may also unnecessarily inflame passions of the surrounding community and may lead to a breach of the peace.”

The inferno and explosion occurred at the AIRTEL base transceiver station (BTS Lag 767) at Abaranje, Ikotun, Lagos State.

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