Interim BEDC Management Retakes Power Firm amid Tussle with Osibodu-led Investors
Emmanuel Addeh in Abuja
The Benin Electricity Distribution Company (BEDC) was at the weekend retaken by the interim management backed by the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) and the Federal Ministry of Power.
NERC, the sector’s regulator had on September 3, 2022, thrown its weight behind the interim board comprising Messrs Henry Ajagbawa, K.C Akuma, Adeola ljose, Charles Onwera and Yomi Adeyemi.
The core investors who were said to have defaulted on the loan repayment to a consortium of banks had earlier forcibly dislodged the interim board and management.
But in new videos emerging from the scene of the takeover, it was observed that a coordinated team comprising mainly policeman, retook the Disco despite the protest from Mrs. Funke Osibodu-led BEDC management.
Benin Disco covers Edo, Ekiti, Delta and Ondo states.
The displaced management had taken back possession and chased away the interim board and management days after its takeover was backed by the NERC, the Bureau of Public Enterprises (BPE) and the ministry of power.
The Osibodu-led firm in a response to the latest development explained that around 6.15 pm after the close of work on Friday, September 16, 2022, when most staff had left the office, a “battalion” of about 30 fully armed policemen dressed in camouflage and normal police uniform invaded the headquarters of BEDC in Benin City.
The erstwhile management stated that about eight vehicles with the name of Edo State government on the vehicles came to take over the offices of the company and claimed a “forceful” mandate given to install Ajagbawa as Managing Director, “beyond the law.”
“The unlawful invasion was notwithstanding the subsisting orders of the Federal High Court in Suit No FHC/ABJ/CS/1113/2022 in which Mr. Ajagbawa, K. C. Akuma, Adeola Ijose, Charles Onwera and Yomi Adeyemi were restrained from parading themselves as directors of BEDC Electricity Plc.
“The said orders of the court also restrained Fidelity Bank Plc and Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission from taking over the business and premises of BEDC,” the company said.
The statement signed by Mr. Kunle Adegoke (SAN), explained that the private security men guarding the premises were threatened with forceful arrest if they did not allow the entry while the armed policemen ‘positioned themselves in combat formation.’
Last month, NERC reiterated its support for the takeover BEDC) by its creditor bank, disowning the recent actions taken by the former management of the firm.
NERC insisted that it had a statutory responsibility to the electricity market, adding that the duty, which is exercised in the public interest outweighs any perceived private interests.
“All stakeholders and members of the general public are enjoined to provide the required support to the interim board of directors as they work on ensuring continuity of service to end-use customers in the BEDC network area,” NERC had stated.