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Dispute: BEDC throws Ondo, Edo, others in darkness

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BEDC Head officeThe Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission, on Friday, confirmed that the contest for the ownership and control of the Benin Electricity Distribution Company was unsettling power users in the four states being served by the Disco.

In a public notice titled, ‘The Legitimate and Statutorily Recognised Board of Directors/Management of BEDC Electricity Plc,’ the commission said electricity consumers in Edo, Ekiti, Delta and Ondo states were concerned about the continuity of BEDC’s service, while industry stakeholders were worried about the Disco’s ability to meet its obligations to the market.

The commission said its attention had been drawn to public notices signed by Mr. Lucky Ayomoto purportedly acting on behalf of the erstwhile board/management of BEDC.

It said the public notices published on August 9, 2022, described the appointment of Messrs Henry Ajagbawa, K.C Akuma, Adeola ljose, Charles Onwera and Yomi Adeyemi as directors of BEDC as an “unlawful misrepresentation and unfortunate misadventure.”

The NERC, however, stated that the Disco was a distribution licensee of commission and by virtue of powers vested in the commission by the Electric Power Sector Reform Act, NERC was the primary authority vested with powers to statutorily recognise the board/management of BEDC as an operator in the Nigerian Electricity Supply Industry.

It said, “The general public may wish to note that BEDC is jointly owned by private investors with Vigeo Power Ltd holding an equity of 60 per cent and 40 per cent being held by the Bureau of Public Enterprises on behalf of the federal and state governments.

“One of the shareholders in Vigeo Power Ltd, Vigeo Holdings Ltd, subscribed to its shares vide a loan from Fidelity Bank Ltd. In the light of a default in servicing the said loan, the bank has exercised its rights to repossess these shares that were provided as security for the acquisition loan.

“Upon repossession of shares of Vigeo Holdings Ltd by the bank, an application was filed by the banks and the BPE with the Commission for the approval of an interim board of directors and management for BEDC in compliance with NERC’s business continuity arrangements for licensees.”

The NERC added, “The commission reviewed and approved Messrs Henry Ajagbawa, K.C Akuma, Adeola liose, Charles Onwera and Yomi Adeyemi as interim board of directors for BEDC with Mr. Henry Ajagbawa as Managing Director.”

The commission noted that the erstwhile management of BEDC challenged the appointments in court after the regulatory and shareholder interventions had been completed.

“The actions taken by the contending parties for the control of BEDC has been primarily unsettling for end-use customers in Edo, Ekiti, Delta and Ondo states that are reasonably concerned about continuity of their service and other NESI stakeholders that are concerned about BEDC’s ability to meet its obligations to the market,” the regulator stated.

It added, “The commission has a statutory responsibility to the electricity market and this responsibility which is exercised in the public interest outweighs any perceived private interests.

“The general public is hereby advised to note that the interim board comprising Messrs Henry Ajagbawa, K.C Akuma, Adeola Jose, Charles Onwera and Yomi Adeyemi are the only directors of BEDC recognised by the commission.”

He stated that all stakeholders and members of the general public were enjoined to provide the required support to the interim board of directors as they worked on ensuring continuity of service to end-use customers in the BEDC network area.

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