BPE: BEDC ownership crisis may throw Ekiti, Delta into darkness

Benin Electricity Distribution Plc. (BEDC)

The Bureau of Public Enterprises (BPE) has warned that non-state actors allegedly engaged by top officials of the Benin Distribution Company (BEDC) could plunge residents of four states into darkness.

The states under BEDC include Delta, Edo, Ekiti and Ondo.

Yunana Jackdell Malo, director, industries and services, BPE, made this known in a statement issued on behalf of Alex Okoh, director-general, BPE, over the weekend.

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Alongside Kano, Kaduna, Ibadan and Port Harcourt electricity distribution companies (DisCos), the federal government had announced the planned takeover of Benin DisCo — with an interim board appointed.

The FG had said the restructuring followed the activation of collateralised shares of the DisCos by Fidelity Bank and African Export-Import Bank (Afreximbank).

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While the restructuring action in the other four DisCos was successful, the restructuring of the Benin DisCos faced disruptions as Vigeo Power Limited secured a court injunction against the takeover.

In July, BEDC management warned that “any attempt by Fidelity Bank and/or BPE to intervene in BEDC in the manner being reported will be illegal, unlawful and will be resisted”.

Newsmen had reported that plans were underway by the BPE to take over BEDC despite the subsisting court injunction.

Speaking on the transition, BPE said it would — alongside NERC — continue to monitor the DisCo and work with the ministry of power and relevant law enforcement agencies to ensure no disruptions to servic.

BPE also said it would ensure the interim board and management proceed with their work.

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“The BPE is monitoring the events at BEDC and is aware that the Interim Board recognised by the NERC and the Bureau has retaken operational control of the Headquarters in Benin with the support of authorities,” the statement reads.

“The Interim Board already had financial control of the entity, and the usage of non-state actors by the former Board and Managing Director to forcefully disrupt the affairs of the entity was unfortunate. The actions, if left unchecked, risked plunging the citizens of Delta, Edo, Ekiti and Ondo (under the BEDC franchise) into darkness.”

The BPE said that “Vigeo Holding, having defaulted on its loan and having collateralised its controlling shares, had lost ownership in the entity”.

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