Narrating her ordeal to Reporters amid tears, Josephine, a student of Abia State College of Health Sciences and Management Technology in the state, said she had worked for Mr. Okoro at the newly opened hotel for two months when the incident occurred.
Mr. Peter Okoro, a hotelier and owner of Sapito Residence and Suite, located at Abayi Obeala in Aba, Abia State, Southeast Nigeria, has brutalised a female employee, Josephine Simon, leaving her nearly blinded after allegedly breaching their salary and work agreement.
Narrating her ordeal to SaharaReporters amid tears, Josephine, a student of Abia State College of Health Sciences and Management Technology in the state, said she had worked for Mr. Okoro at the newly opened hotel for two months when the incident occurred.
According to her, the hotelier is fond of regularly wailing over the N35,000 salary they agreed on.
She said her employer never believed that she was putting in enough work equivalent to the salary and therefore decided to cut down her salary as against their agreement.
She added that he removed some workers and increased her workload against their agreement.
“This is two months I have been working for him as a housekeeper supervisor. We negotiated a salary of N35,000 at the beginning. After one month, he said that he could not continue paying me that amount, that it was too ‘big’, and that he would start paying me N25,000 and I disagreed with him.
“We later agreed on N30,000 and he removed some housekeepers and left only one with me, so I now do both supervision and cleaning of room as well, but he kept complaining about the salary,” Josephine said.
She further narrated: “On Saturday, the 29th of July, he came to the hotel around 5 p.m. when we had finished both compound cleaning and the rooms.
“He asked me what I was doing and I told him that we had finished work for the day. He then instructed me to go and clean the room he gave to our chef, that the room was dirty.
“I did and the chef came back and I told him that the director was not happy about the way the room was, that he should meet him and talk things out, which they later talked about in the evening.
“I normally sleep at the VIP bar whenever there is no guest there. He told the receptionist to ask me to leave the place, but I refused. I told the girl that it is where I always sleep. The girl went and called him. He came and asked me to come out, I did and they locked the place.
“I then told him to pay me off, that I would not work for him again but he said that I should wait until he paid others their salaries. I accepted and went and sat at the reception.
“Our director left and I and Ola, the receptionist, started exchanging words that night and the Porter called him (Okoro) on the phone to come back.
“He came and asked me to leave the hotel premises around 11 p.m. but I told him that I was not going out; that it was late and that I would stay till morning. He refused and called security to drag me out but the person refused. He then used his hand and in the process stripped me naked while dragging me out from the reception.”
Explaining further, Josephine said she thereafter left the building but remained on the hotel premises but Mr. Okoro insisted she should leave the place.
She said she refused and asked him why he was treating her in such a manner.
“Was it because I am working for him? I was crying when he came again and pushed me down three times and I fell on the floor and held his clothes. That was when he started beating me and injured me like this (displaying her brutalised face and eye).
“He said that if I wanted, I should die, that he didn’t care about it and that nothing would happen. Then the chef met him and told him that what happened to me was big and that he wanted to take me to hospital. They took me to one maternity hospital around that place but the lady there didn’t do much for me.
“He later came around 1 a.m. and paid N1,500 and all of them left me there and went home.
“Till morning, none of them returned to the hospital and the woman (in the hospital) refused to give me further treatment. I left there and went back to the hotel but I didn’t see him.
“I took myself to the hospital and he is still threatening me. Please, I need justice. It is not a crime to work and be supporting yourself through school. Please, I need justice. He said I can’t do anything to him,” she said.
Josephine said Mr. Okoro had been threatening her, but that she had reported the matter at Osusu Amukwu Police Station.
She added that when police officers from the station went to Mr. Okoro’s hotel, he was not found and the police left an invitation letter for him to report himself at the station.
When contacted by SaharaReporters, Mr. Okoro said Josephine was fond of harassing guests in the hotel, asking them if they urinated on the beds.
He said she also slept in the VIP bar without his knowledge despite providing accommodation for staff members in the hotel.
Mr. Okoro said, “I just opened the hotel and she is among the first people we hired. Then there was a day a guest lodged in the hotel and one of the female guests asked her (Josephine who is the cleaning supervisor) to help her clean the room but she flared up and asked the guest, ‘Is it because you are wearing Brazilian hair, you feel that you have the right to command me?’
“The boyfriend of the female guest reported to me and I apologised to them and explained that Josephine lost a father figure in her life, so she was probably not in her best mood.
“On Thursday, before the Saturday night incident, there was another female guest in our room and the bed was soaked because the guest had complained that the air conditioner in the room was not functioning well.
“We moved the guest to another room and when Josephine went to clean the guest’s previous room and found the bed soaked, she went to the guest and asked her if urinated on the bed or poured water on it. The female guest felt embarrassed and told her boyfriend that they should never come to our hotel again.
“When I heard about it, I called her and cautioned her but she denied it and said that they lied against her, that she only asked the guest if she poured water on the bed because they usually charge guests some amount of money if they poured water on the bed.
“She then confronted the front desk staff member, asking her what she told me and why she told me such a thing. They were quarrelling when I came in and I told the employee to forget the issue.
“On Saturday, I came to the hotel and saw Josephine sitting in the bar fiddling with her phone while the environment was dirty. And the chef’s room I asked them to clean and wash its bedsheets was left undone. I told her to do the cleaning.
“When I came back around 8 p.m., I saw that nobody was in the VIP bar and I instructed Ola, the receptionist, to lock the bar. A moment later, my intercoms rang and Ola said that Josephine asked to open the VIP bar for her, that she left something there but that she refused to come out after getting in.
“I went to Josephine and asked her to go to the staff quarters but she said she could not sleep there. She said she had been sleeping in the VIP bar, which I didn’t know about.
“When I insisted that she should go to the staff quarters, she left the bar and while she was going, she told me I should pay off, that she didn’t want to work again.
“I told her it was already the 29th of the month, and that when paying other staff members at the end of the month, I would pay her and she said no problem.”
Asked if that was enough reason to brutalise her, Mr. Okoro said that it was around 10 pm when Josephine left and he was already going home when he heard noises at the reception where Josephine had allegedly gone to attack the receptionist.
“I tried to calm them down but Josephine kept on shouting, threatening to beat the receptionist. When I couldn’t calm her down, I called security to take her out of the reception and take her to staff quarters. Yet, she refused to go and said that whatever would happen should happen.
“When she finally left the reception, she said I should watch and see how the hotel would fail. That she would deal with me and that I would not make any money from the hotel. That was when I asked her to leave the hotel entirely but she refused and as I tried to force her out, she held on to my clothes and while I tried to remove her hand, she rushed to grab my manhood. As I tried to remove her hand from my neck, I hit her face.”
Okoro said he directed his chef to take Josephine in his car to a hospital but in the hospital, Josephine started making trouble with the nurse on duty until the nurse got angry and said she would not treat her again.
However, Josephine said that the nurse did not provide adequate treatment and that Mr. Okoro only paid N1,500 in the hospital.
Okoro denied the claim, saying he paid the sum of N6,000 that the hospital demanded.
Regarding the slashing of her salary, he admitted that Josephine’s salary was slashed from N35,000 to N250,000.
He, however, added that the salaries of all staff members were slashed, adding that he and Josephine did not agree on N30,000.
Mr. Okoro further claimed that Josephine had earlier on the day of the incident posted on her WhatsApp status that she was sad and depressed.
He also said that after the incident, she posted that he was sleeping with her co-workers, to which he replied that she must explain with evidence what she meant and why she was destroying his image.