I write this post today to bring to the general public notice the open war declared by the Benin Electricity Distribution Company on the good people of Edo State. You would recall in 2014 when members of Edo Civil Society Organisations raised issues that bother on electricity exploitation, extortion, non provision of meters, compulsory payment for darkness by the people and other ancillary issues which the governor lent his voice and condemned same. We took same matter to the Edo State House of Assembly, the Oba Palace, and the National Assembly which all these institutions spoke in the same vein with you. For purpose of legal clarity, we took the matter to the Federal High Court in Lagos through our counsel, Barrister Toluwani Adebiyi to seek for an injunction to stop further increment on tariff, mandatory
supply of meters among other things. The injunction was granted by the court on the 28th day of May, 2015, which states that there shall be no increment in tariff till the determination of the substantive suit. To our greatest surprise, the Nigerian
Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) and the eleven Distribution Companies across the country, on 1st February, 2016 went ahead to increase tariff against the court order. It is also of note that, the legal process of tariff fixing in accordance with the Electric Power Reform Act, 2005, particularly section 76 was not adhered to.
In a recent development, the management of BEDC has engaged the services of military and police personnel who go about oppressing and intimidating Edo people; coercing them to pay the new tariff against the court order.More worrisome is the use of the police in arresting persons who have rejected the new tariff and charging them to court for prosecution through the Command Monitoring Unit which is directly supervised by the Commissioner of Police. It is on good record that, for this purpose, 15 new Hilux vans were procured to convey military and police officers to different locations across the state to forcefully disconnect and arrest citizens that have refused to pay the illegal tariff imposed on them by BEDC.
The thrust of this post is to urgently draw everybody’s attention to an impending anarchy in the State which will be as a result of Edo Civil Society Organization’s resistance/confrontation with the military and police personnel used by BEDC in oppressing, intimidating, harassing and coercing Edo people despite a subsisting court order. We will do anything within our powers to protect our cherished democracy and Edo people even if it means sacrificing our lives. It will be a moral sin for us to fold our arms and watch the judiciary ridiculed by few capitalists in a democratic dispensation where the court is expected to be the last bus stop to every dispute and contention.
It should also be noted that, the Managing Director of the Benin Electricity Distribution Company, Mrs. Funke Osibudu is very wealthy hence she has a lot of money to mobilize the police and military against Edo people in a democratic era. Edo people now live in absolute fear daily due to the oppressive, intimidating, oppressive actions by BEDC using the military and police. Our demands are simple, they are:
- BEDC MUST obey the court order
- They MUST follow the legal process of tariff fixing in accordance with the Electric Power Reform Act, 2005, particularly Section 76
- Prepaid meters MUST be supplied Free of Charge to all consumers in accordance with the agreement with the Federal Government of Nigeria.
- Stop the militarization of Edo state and the use of police in arresting and prosecuting Edo people forthwith.
We will not stop until the people enjoy adequate services for their money.