Abavo Kingsley, Benin

 

The protesters

Organized civil rights group in Edo State on Thursday, 23 May, 2019 tackled the State House of Assembly over electricity bill it passed into law on Monday, 20 May, 2019.

The group is angry by the bill which attempts to criminalize what is termed, ‘electricity theft and other related offences’ without providing for protection of consumers who it said have grossly been exploited by the power supplier.

The bill titled: Electricity Theft Offence, prescribes a special court for electricity consumers in the Benin Electricity Distribution Company (BEDC) catchment area who bypass and engage in illegal connection.

Also the lawmakers under the leadership of Hon. Kabiru Adjoto are accused of abandonment of electricity consumers, connivance with BEDC and sell out after suspected collection of lucre.

In a massive protest, the group stormed the gate to the State House of Assembly wearing black attires with ‘BEDC Must Go’ boldly written, and carrying placards with different inscriptions.

In an open display of strong rejection of the bill and condemnation of the lawmakers, the protesters pelted the banner bearing image of the speaker, Hon. Adjoto, with rotten tomatoes and oranges.

 

Another section of the protesters

Coordinator general of the group Leftist Omobude Agho, led the protesters in their hundreds through major streets of Benin City, the State capital before heading to Government House where they were addressed by the Head of Service, Isaac Ehiozuwa on behalf of government.

He said the stand of the State governor, Godwin Obaseki on the issue of operation of BEDC in relation to consumers is clear and remains unchanged.

Amidst tight security, the protesters chanting solidarity songs, vowed to resist the bill which it considered as anti people, advising Obaseki not to sign it into law.

“The issue of estimated billings, poor services and provision of metres must be addressed before any other issue. Edo people should not be seen to be doing the bidding of BEDC. This law is anti people and must be rejected. BEDC is out to exploit Edo people and must be resisted.”

In reaction, the Speaker, Hon. Adjoto condemned the protest alleging that some disgruntled persons were mastermind.

Denying allegation of the House connivance with BEDC against electricity consumers, he said the bill was done with good intention.

The organized civil rights group has for long time locked in battle with the BEDC over poor services, and other sundry issues connected.

It vows not to back pedal until the right thing is done by the power supplier.