Photo: Lebanese Couple Offers N400K To Nigerian Woman They Tortured
The Lebanese couple that tortured a Nigerian woman has offered her N400, 000 in a bid to settle the matter amicably, Sunday Sun has gathered.
The woman at the centre of the alleged torture and who is an indigene of Delta State, Mrs. Grace Okpara, revealed in an interview with Sunday Sunthat the couple, Mr. and Mrs. Joseph Yazbeck offered her the said amount during a meeting with the Divisional Police Officer of the Ibafo Police Station, where the matter was incidented.
Okpara had alleged that during a confrontation at the company, Hala and her husband, Joseph Yazbeck, beat her thoroughly. She said that they held her hair and dragged her all the way from an office to a workshop. She further alleged that the couple boasted that they would kill her and nothing would happen. On account of the torture meted out to her by the couple, Okpara ended up in hospital for days.
As Sunday Sun gathered, Hala and her husband both work as management executives of Buildwell Plant and Equipment Industry Limited, a logistics company located along the Lagos/Ibadan Expressway.
Following the incident, the police had invited the Yazbecks, but they failed to honour the invitation until after four days. When they eventually visited the police station, Hala insisted that it was even Okpara that actually beat her, and claimed that she never laid a finger on her.
After much argument, the couple agreed to settle with the aggrieved worker and offered her the sum of N400,000, which she refused, choosing instead to have the matter charged to court as soon as the striking judiciary workers resumed duties.
With pains, Okpara recalled that prior to the torture incident, Hala had been a thorn in her flesh right from when she began working with the company four years ago. She said that torturing workers was a common occurrence in the company.
She blamed the present state of affairs on the high unemployment rate in the country, which prevents maltreated Nigerians workers from speaking out against the injustices perpetrated on them mostly by Lebanese-owned companies.
According to her, Lebanese employers often brag about how they have bought the Nigerian system, claiming that even if they kill a Nigerian working in their companies, the government would not do anything against them.
“So that fateful day,” Okpara recalled, “I was coming from one direction of the workshop when I saw her at the other end. I saw her in front of our store, she was shouting on somebody. I decided to avoid her. I turned to enter one office. That is how I do anytime I see her. Even when I have not seen her, people will call me ‘Grace oh!, your madam is coming.’ And I will start hiding. In that kind of job, there is no freedom.
“I didn’t know that she had already seen me. So, she started shouting at me, saying that she had told me not to go there again. I stopped and told her that I wanted to take something from the office. When I tried to enter the office, I didn’t know that she ran after me. The next thing, she grabbed my dress. Then she slapped me and kicked me with her leg.
“I was like ‘Madam, what is all this now.’ People were trying to hold her. She said I should go and collect my pay off, that I had been sacked. I said ‘fine, it is better. Give me the pay off and let me walk out of this place instead of being treated like a slave.
“Immediately I said that, the husband hit me from the back because he was standing there too. He queried why I should talk to his wife like that. I said, ‘Ah ah, Mr. Joe, why are you beating me?’ When the woman saw her husband’s reaction, she resumed beating me. The man then pulled my hair and together they dragged me out of the office to the workshop. I was trying to fight back, but nobody was there to rescue me. Everybody was there watching; they couldn’t do anything because they didn’t want to lose their jobs
“Eventually, one guy came and gave the man an elbow. He was like ‘this one is too much, do you people want to kill her?’ When they left me, I was still trying to fight back because I didn’t understand why they should treat me like that. That was when the woman took her phone and started recording me; that she would use that as evidence. I picked up something and said I would break the phone, because how can you be beating me and also recording it at the same time?
“The workers were not happy at all. It was as if there was rioting in the company that day. They didn’t even know how I managed to escape from the company because, maybe they would not have allowed me to go out. When I left, I went to the Ibafo Police Station and reported to the police, because the woman’s husband had said that he was going to kill me and nothing will happen. After I gave the police my statement, they took me to a hospital where I was admitted for days.”
When Sunday Sun contacted Mrs. Hala Yazbeck via her mobile phone, she answered, but became silent when the matter was mentioned. After about half a minute, a male voice came on and asked, “Yes, how may I help you?”
After the matter was introduced, his reply was:
“Now listen… there is no need for that. It is just a dispute between two colleagues and I think that it should have been sorted out by now. We need to avoid these things, please, I beg you.”Have you settled the matter, our reporter asked him?” His answer was sharp. “Please, there is no need for this. It is a dispute between colleagues and my legal department is working on it. Thank you very much, madam,” and the line went off.