Asaba Electricity Consumers Battle BEDC, Petition Okowa over Disconnection

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By Omon-Julius Onabu in Asaba

Amid fears of imminent breakdown of law and order in the Core Area of Asaba following    alleged acts of lawlessness levelled against the Benin Electricity Distribution Company (BEDC) and one one of its senior managers, some consumers have sent an S.O.S. to Governor Ifeanyi Okowa.

The residents and customers of the electricity company in Block VII, Phase V of the Core Area of Asaba claim that the activities of Mr. Ernest Edgar, the Delta State Chief Head of BEDC, violate extant laws and directives of Nigeria Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC).

In a petition to the governor, the concerned landlords accused the BEDC chief of “using security operatives to intimidate and harass residents in the area while going about unlawfully disconnecting electricity consumers.”

The petition titled: ‘Imminent Breakdown of Law and Order in Block VII, Core Area, Asaba: Petition against one Mr. Edgar Ernest and BEDC for their Lawlessness’, was made available to newsmen in Asaba yesterday.

The residents in the petition, signed by the chairman of the association of landlords in the area, Mr. E.W. Ureki and secretary, E.C. Okoro, said that they have been pushed to the wall from incessant harassment and intimidation by Edgar and BEDC.

The petitioners claimed that BEDC on June 8, 2017, disconnected them from the dedicated Dublina Hotel transformer, despite the fact that the connection to the transformer was legal, and that the subscribers were paying electricity bills regularly.

They revealed that they approached the Asaba Forum of NERC to seek justice as all entreaties to get BEDC reconnect them were ignored.

They further said in its ruling of November 14, 2017, the NERC forum directed BEDC to “reconnect us within 48 hours of service of the ruling, and pay a penalty of N1,000 per day to each of the affected pre-paid metered customers. The copies of the ruling were served on BEDC onNovember 17 by the Asaba forum. Edgar Ernest was also served the same day.”

It noted that rather than comply with the ruling, BEDC and its officials have been going about the area with heavily armed security operatives to harass and intimidate residents.

However, the petitioners warned that the “development without doubt might ignite a crisis in our peaceful community”, adding, “As we speak, some younger residents in our area have threatened to confront Mr. Edgar Ernest any day they see him in the area with armed men.”

They further alleged that the said Edgar and BEDC have become “terrors in not only Asaba but also in the entire Delta, their disobedience of the three rulings of Asaba forum on our re-connection constitutes a gross violation of Section 63(1) of the Electricity Power Sector Reform 2005, and Conditions 4, and 50 of Electricity Distribution License Terms and Conditions, which stipulate that all Discos are obligated to implement decisions of the forum on electricity customers issues and obey directives within the time specified in the decisions or directives of the commission.”

The petitioners, therefore, appealed to Governor Okowa to “call BEDC and Mr. Edgar to order by prevailing on him to comply with the ruling of Asaba forum and the directive of NERC, Abuja to re-connect “our lines and pay uscompensation from June 8, 2017.”

They appealed that BEDC be dissuaded from using security apparatus to harass law abiding citizens, demanding that BEDC and its concerned manager should be made to give an undertaking “for our safety in all ramifications as law abiding citizens.”