BEDC: Allow legal proceedings to take their full course

From Ben Dunno, Warri

The National Chairman of the Committee for the Defense of Human Rights (CDHR), Comrade (Dr) Kehinde Prince Taiga appealed to the government, its agencies and other stakeholders involved in the imbroglio with the leadership of Benin Electricity Distribution Company Plc (BEDC), to maintain the status quo and allow the conclusion of the ongoing legal proceedings in the matter.

Reacting to the recent invasion of BEDC premises in Edo State by police who claimed to be acting on directive from above in a statement made available to reporters in Warri yesterday, Dr Taiga condemned the action in its entirety, describing it as a gross violation and abuse of the judicial process.

He argued that there can never be moral, logical or reasonable justifications for such uncivilized action when the case is still pending before a competent court which has ordered all parties involved to maintain the status quo in the matter pending the decision of the suit in front of her.

Dr Taiga, who denounced the role that supposedly law enforcement officers were brought in to play in this senseless act, revealed that later findings revealed it was based on the Attorney General’s directive of the Federation and the Minister of Justice, Mr. Abubakar Malami, on whom the police acted during the invasion of the premises of the BEDC.

While questioning the rationale behind the decision of a sitting justice minister who should be the guardian of the law to protect the judiciary would be the one giving directives usurping the judicial process, Taiga urged all parties stakeholders with a vested interest in BEDC, in particular government, individuals and security agents, primarily the Nigeria Police Force (NPF), to exercise restraint in the matter and allow the legal proceedings to be completed.

According to information circulating in the media; “At approximately 6:15 p.m. after closing on Friday, September 16, 2022, when most staff had left the office, a battalion of approximately 30 fully armed police officers dressed in camouflage and normal police uniforms invaded BEDC headquarters. Electricity Plc in Benin City”.

“The invading policemen who came in about eight (8) vehicles marked the Edo State Government, claimed that they were acting on the directive from above to forcefully assert the mandate of a certain M “Henry Ajagbawa, as the company’s new chief executive, an action contrary to the ruling of a court of competent jurisdiction that all parties should maintain the status quo until the action is decided.”

“The unlawful invasion was notwithstanding the surviving orders of the Federal High Court in Case No; FHC/ABJ/CS/1113/2022 in which Mr. Ajagbawa, KC Akuma, Adeola Ijose, Charles Onwera and Yomi Adeyemi were barred from running as directors of BEDC Electricity Plc”.

“The said court orders also prevented Fidelity Bank PLC and the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission from taking over BEDC’s business and premises.”

Continue ; “Private security men guarding the premises were threatened with forced arrest if they did not allow entry while armed police positioned themselves in combat formation.”

CDHR therefore takes this opportunity to warn the Edo State Government to distance itself from the BEDC issue which is already before the courts, and the State Governor, Mr. Godwin Obaseki, should be brought to understand that the BEDC is not an agency or an appendage of the Edo. State Government”.

“It is common knowledge that BEDC not only serves Edo but also Delta, Ondo and Ekiti, adding that the governors of these states have shown more understanding and knowledge on the issues at stake.”

“We therefore urged the Edo State government to focus more on the development of its land and people rather than fueling the BEDC crisis, insisting that the current Managing Director remain the Managing Director. Constitutional General of the BEDC until the Court decides otherwise,” he said.

Denise W. Whigham