The attention of the Management of BEDC Electricity PLC (BEDC) has been drawn to a misleading information emanating from the Edo State Civil Society Organizations (EDOSCO) to the effect that they will be staging protest from Monday, 29th October till Wednesday 31st October in Benin, Edo state to dissuade Federal Government from the renewal of BEDC license after five years of operation and also protest against the extension of its executive management employment contract.
We wish to categorically state that there is nothing like an ongoing contract renewal for investors in the 11 Distribution Companies (Discos) based on the privatization exercise conducted by the Bureau of Public Enterprises (BPE) as the agent of the Federal Government in 2013. Indeed, the sale of BEDC by BPE to core investors is a once for all transaction resulting in 60% acquisition of the company with a long-term licensing not a 5year license.
The power sector as we know all over the world is a long-term investment for operators. We are surprised at the display of ignorance by EDOSCO who are misinforming the public about the privatization exercise by purportedly lashing in on their misconceived impression that there will be contract renewal as an excuse to disturb public peace.
We are not surprised at the resolve of EDOSCO to disturb public peace by using the excuse of protesting against BEDC services. Since we started operations, they have constituted themselves into public nuisance by attempts to create hostility to our operations at intervals, especially in relations to our continued process of ensuring that as customers they comply with the BEDC business process. We are thus presently in court with them and some of their members on three cases. Two cases involving public prosecution charges, I.G.P Vs. Airofolo Daniel & 4Ors and I.G.P Vs. BROADRICK OKHIRIE & 2ORS., are currently pending at The Federal High Court holding in Benin where BEDC took some suspects including EDOSCO members to court in March 2017 for allegedly tampering with electrical fittings, this being a crime punishable under sections 1 (9) &(10) and 3 (6) of the Miscellaneous Offences Act cap M.17 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria (LFN) 2004. The suspects are being tried on charges relating to removal, damage, tampering and interference with electric fitting, meters and other appliances designed to be used for transforming or converting electricity, property of BEDC.
The action was taken against the backdrop of overwhelming cases of energy theft through meter bypass and tampering by some members of EDOSCO who use it as a cover up to avoid payment of electricity bills. The other case which is still pending at the High Court in Benin is Benin Electricity Distribution Plc. Vs. Omobude, some other members, and EDOSCO & Ors , wherein BEDC is seeking for an injunction restraining EDOSCO members from occupying, blocking and restraining both staff and customers from their right of ingress and egress from BEDC business premises at the Head office, business units or service units in Edo state and disrupting business operations or vandalizing equipment or facilities under the guise of protest.
We do believe in the right of people to protest but such is expected be done within reasonable confines of the law and not as an excuse for violence or brigandage of any sort.
As BEDC under the new management, since the commencement of operation five years ago, management has put in place various measures that have improved power availability to major parts of Edo State. The details are periodically published in key national newspapers inclusive of the numerous positive feedback received as testimonials from various categories of customers, i.e. industrial, commercial, residential and communities in our franchise states, most especially in Edo State.
It will be recalled that recently, EDOSCO in their mischief had also circulated a false information to the public that BEDC was circulating a survey form to customers with the intention of getting favorable rating, preparatory to license renewal or change of executive management, an information that is totally untrue.
We affirm once again that there is no BEDC survey form out there coming from Management for the purpose of any license renewal. Any purported copy of such must be one from unscrupulous elements.
However, as an organization, we regularly engage with customers to filling forms for enumeration, load assessments, enrollments, complaints and feedback on services rendered.
Management wishes to state further that contrary to the insinuations by the Edo civil society that the company has not given out a single transformer to communities, BEDC has as a matter of fact installed transformers in communities ranging from 50KVA to 2.5MVA since inception across the franchise states.
As a service provider, we do not encourage self-help in arranging for transformers. We advise that customers should only pay their bills and it is BEDC’s responsibility to make power available.
Any party purporting to be acting for BEDC to extort money from the public should be reported to our whistle blowing numbers 09038857888, 09038857889.
BEDC therefore advises esteemed customers and good people of Edo state to disregard the false information being peddled by EDOSCO as a justification for the proposed three-day protest which at best is an attempt to disturb public peace and cause chaos.
We are committed to serving you better.