Residents of Ubulu-Okiti community, a suburb or Asaba, capital of Delta state, have cried out over the refusal of the Benin Electricity Distribution Company’s (BEDC) to restore them to the national grid after eight years of deliberate disconnection, insipite of alleged ongoing illegal levies by BEDC amounting to over N30 million.
It was learnt the power authority then, under the Power Holding Corporation of Nigeria (PHCN) had disconnected some clusters of communities besieging the state capital, along the Benin/Asaba power distribution section including Ubulu-Okiti, as a result of a national policy to dedicated the powerline to the emerging industrial layout.
“Other communities disconnected from the National Grid along with Ubulu-Okiti, such as Onicha-Ugbo, Isselle-Uku, Ubulu-Uku, Ogwashi-Uku have been restored to the National Grid, leaving only Ubulu-Okiti”, a visibly inflamed President General of Ubulu-Okiti Development Association (UODA) Builder Izu Iloba-Agafiena told our Correspondent in Asaba Wednesday.
“We are further miffed by the callousness of BEDC in conniving with some dubious elements in Ubulu-Okiti that it would restore light to the Community, if they pay an illegal levy and I speak to you, this illegal and dubious collections are going on and BEDC with their cohorts have extorted over N30 million from gullible residents in desperate need of power supply to revive their businesses”, the PG lamented.
Builder Iloba-Agafiena said they had made concerted efforts in the wake of the PHCN disconnection and were assured the new power distribution management, BEDC would address their plight and restore power supply to them.
“But to our chagrin, BEDC came and told us that Ubulu-Okiti was committed in the process leading to the acquisition of assets and liabilities of PHCN. So the took the matter to the National Electricity Regulations Commission (NERC) Forum in Benin-City.
“At the NERC Zonal Tribunal, aside their initial position that our Community was not listed among their customers, BEDC said Ubulu-Okiti was not captured in their 2017 Power Supply Budget. But NERC reprimanded them and directed that power supply be restored to the Community within one month effective October 2017.
“Ever since, BEDC has refused to comply with the NERC Tribunal’s Ruling and instead filed an appeal to NERC in Abuja, which uptil now has not been served on us, only for BEDC to swoop on the residents, collecting illegal levies. It appears NERC is now in conspiracy with BEDC to keep us in darkness and economic exploitation. Otherwise why have they not heard the appeal by BEDC or compel them to implement the NERC Zonal Forum’s Verdict on the matter?
“We regard this development as provocative and capable of sparking of restivesness in the Community. In fact, we have been calming the youths and angry residents, whose businesses and source of livelihood has suffered gravely, the Community leader narrated.
Also speaking to our Correspondent, the National Legal Adviser of UODA, Barr. Churchill Mafiana said in the first place, it was wrong for PHCN and BEDC to disconnect the Community from the National Grid just to serve another customer’s business interest.
“This act is a clear violation of the fundamental rights of Ubulu-Okiti residents and Community againy discrimination of access to public utilities and we will address this matter squarely in the UODA Easter Conference and consider a full blown legal action against BEDC”, the UODA Legal Adviser disclosed.