The Federal Government, through its Bureau of Public Enterprises, on Sunday, said the former board and managing director of the Benin Electricity Distribution Company was using non-state actors to disrupt activities at the power firm.
It said this might lead to blackouts in the four states where BEDC distributes electricity. The four states include Delta, Edo, Ekiti and Ondo.
The BPE said Vigeo Holding, having defaulted on its loan facilities and collateralised controlling shares in BEDC, lost ownership in the entity.
A restructuring action had been announced on July 5, 2022 by BPE and the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission for Kano, Kaduna, Benin and Ibadan Discos.
Following the restructuring, Fidelity Bank stepped in to the board of BEDC, leading to the appointment of an interim management by BPE and NERC to stabilise the entities and avert any operational issue.
But the Director, Industries and Services, BPE, Yunana Malo, said in a statement on Sunday that the former board and managing director of BEDC had been disrupting activities at the power firm, which might cause darkness in the Disco’s franchise areas.
He said, “The BPE is monitoring the events at the Benin Electricity Distribution Company and is aware that the interim board recognised by the NERC and BPE has retaken operational control of the headquarters in Benin with the support of authorities.
“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 bureau, however, explained that the restructured entities were to be transitioned from the bank’s control to more financially and technically competent private investors under a structured process being monitored by the National Council on Privatisation (through BPE) and the Central Bank of Nigeria.
“While the restructuring action in Kano, Kaduna and Ibadan took place without issue, the Benin Disco restructuring had faced disruptions by the investors that were exited,” the bureau stated.
It added, “BPE commends the professionalism and actions of the relevant security agencies that supported the operational takeover of the headquarters facility in Benin and the reinstatement of operational control of the headquarters to the recognised interim board and management.
“BPE alongside NERC will continue to monitor the Disco and work with the Ministry of Power and relevant law enforcement agencies to ensure no disruptions to service occur and that the interim board and management are allowed to proceed with their work unimpeded.”