Edo State Governor Godwin Obaseki Monday ordered the arrest of officials of Benin Electricity Distribution Company (BEDC) for allegedly removing a transformer bought and installed by members of Ihovbor Community in Uhunmwode Local Government Area of the State.
The Governor gave the order while receiving members of Ihovbor Community led by Chief Tony Otakpolor, who protested the removal of their transformer by people suspected to be officials of BEDC.
They said the action of BEDC has put the entire community in darkness for the past 16 months.
Obaseki bemoaned BEDC’s alleged lawlessness, noting that it was uncharitable for the company to remove a transformer that was procured by the community.
According to him: “What BEDC has done by removing the transformer procured by the people of Ihovbor is tantamount to stealing. They removed assets bought by private individuals and moved it to an unknown location.
“I am ordering the arrest of officials that have done this. If you can’t arrest them, arrest the Managing Director and get him or her to explain why they will remove a transformer bought by the community, throwing them into darkness for 16 months.”
Obaseki said the state is having power challenge because it has an inefficient electricity distribution company, which is holding back progress in the state, adding, “They will not supply light and will do everything to stop you. When we make alternative arrangements to help ourselves, BEDC will do everything to truncate it. We have reported to Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) and I am sure that very soon something positive will be done.”
The Governor said Ihovbor Community is not only peace-loving but also one of the few communities in Nigeria that host a substantial size of power investment. “Soon, your community will be one of the largest single producers of electricity in Nigeria as you host NIPP and Azura power plantS,” he said.
“We are already marketing the community for huge investments and planning to bring the President to do the commissioning for us, to expand what we have, for more companies to come in.”
Briefing the Governor on the reasons behind the barricade of the facility of Transmission Company of Nigeria (TCN) in Ihovbor, the Special Adviser to the Governor on Politics and Community Affairs, Chief Osaro Idah, said the transformer bought by the community was removed to an unknown location.
“This act angered the people, who used traditional means to barricade the facility hindering the transmission of electricity,” he said.
He said the community bought two transformers two years ago and BEDC allegedly came to remove one while the other went bad.
He noted that all efforts made by the community to make BEDC return their transformer fell on deaf ears, as they remained in darkness for 16 months, adding that this led to the shutting down of the transmission line in Ihovbor Community.
Leader of Ihovbor Community, Chief Otakpolor, thanked the Governor for his intervention, promising that the community believes in his administration and will continue to maintain peace.
“I want to thank you for your kind gesture today by ordering the purchase of another transformer for the Community,” Otakpolor added.