Groups Threaten Protests Over Benin DISCO, Consumers’ Crisis

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A coalition of civic groups has called on the Bureau for Public Enterprises (BPE), the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) and the Nigeria Bulk Electricity Trading Company (NBET) to intervene in the ongoing unrest in the franchise areas of the Benin Electricity Distribution Company (BEDC).
The Transparency Advocacy for Development Initiative, alongside other allied civil society groups, made the call during a press briefing last Friday in Abuja, warning that it would embark on protests to the offices of the aforementioned regulators should they fail to take action.
“We call on every concerned regulator to immediately come out and clear on the needless controversies being stirred ostensibly to cripple the Benin Electricity Distribution Company under its current management,” the group said in a statement signed by its convener, Solomon Adodo and made availables to journalists shortly after the briefing.
“If we do not get appropriate feedback within seven days of this notice, we shall be left with no other option but to embark on a peaceful procession to these offices for the sake of sanity in our power sector.” Mr Adodo said the call became necessary due to vandalism of critical electricity installations and electricity theft going on in the areas, including “media and physical attacks on BEDC”. He described such attacks as “highly political and fuelled by businessmen bent on taking over the company from its current management at all costs using strong-arm mafia manoeuvres.”
The call comes two months after a newspaper reported how groups of youth stormed the ministry of power, works and housing in maitama, Abuja to protest against the renewal of the operational licence of the BEDC, accusing the company of refusing to provide transformers and electrical poles including ancillaries.
But the company described the protests as ill-motivated. Days later, its managing director, Funke Osibodu, said the protest against the organisation was due to the stoppage of power theft by some people.
Mr Adodo said findings by the group revealed that many electricity users have been involved in electricity theft in the area.
“They deliberately do not want to be metered but intend to be using electricity at no cost, business cannot be carried out in such manner,” he said.