A Review of the Nigerian Energy Industry

PHCN ordered to pay N8m to electrocuted woman’s family

Suzan Edeh

4 October 2011, Sweetcrude, Bauchi—
Power Holding Company, PHCN, has been ordered to pay N8.4million compensation to the family of a deceased pregnant woman who was electrocuted through alleged negligence by the company.

The late Mrs Zainab Abubakar, 20, was said to have been electrocuted by a high tension transmission line which reportedly dropped on her building, causing her death and that of her unborn baby on June 23, 2011.

Zainab’s widower, Ibrahim Abubakar and her five-year-old daughter, Amina, later sued the PHCN, asking for the said N8.4 million compensation which the company did not not defend, despite the fact that it was reportedly properly served with the court papers.

According to court records, the plaintiffs called four witnesses including the deceased’s neighbour, one Balarabe, an Islamic scholar, Tijani Sa’id from the state Sharia Commission, her brother Saidu Abubakar and the husband.

In his account of the incident, the neighbour, Balarabe, told the court that he heard a loud scream from his neigbourhood adding that when he ran out, he saw the deceased’s hand glued to a pole.

Balarabe said that he was able to switch off electricity with the assistance of other neighbours before they tried to revive her but were unsuccessful.

According to Balarabe, it was at this point that the neighbours assisted and took her to the hospital where she was certified dead by a medical doctor.

The late Zainab’s widower, Abubakar, said the corpse of his late wife was partly burnt during her electrocution, adding that the body was later released to him for burial according to Islamic rites.

Abubakar further tendered pictures of the roof of their house that was also partly burnt as a result of the high tension wire and the certificate of death certified by the doctor as evidence.

He then asked for N8million compensation for his wife and another N0. 4 million for the unborn baby, bringing the total to N8.4 million.

In his judgement yesterday, the presiding judge, Justic Hamidu Kunaza said ‘’the act of the defendant in a high tension electric transmission line across the house resided by the plaintiff, which led to the death of the wife and her unborn child of eight months, was an act of negligence.

“The defendant is here by ordered to pay to the plaintiff the sum of N8 million for the death of the Plaintiff’s wife and the baby”.

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