For several hours, hundred of youths from Fanibi area of Akure shut down the busy Oyemekun and Ondo road in the state capital as they accused officials of the Benin Electricity Distribution Company, BEDC, of “deliberately” causing perpetual blackout in order to extort them.
The residents, who staged mass protest which prevented vehicular movement for over five hours, alleged that BEDC officials were behind the constant theft of the cables attached to transformers that supply electricity to the area.
According to Daily Post: The protesting youths, who displayed placards with various inscriptions against the operation of BEDC, stated that the move was a strategy to extort money from residents, adding that the company is not being realistic with the N24 million debt it stated that the community is owing.
The chairman, Fanibi Landlords’ Association, Mr Olubunmi Mapayi also alleged that officials of BEDC have been terrorising residents of the community with outrageous billing while they refused to issue prepaid meters to them.
“They have earlier come to remove a fuse from our transformer last Friday, telling us that our fuse was faulty and the next thing we saw was that two big transformer cables have also been cut overnight. That would be the third time our cable would be stolen.
“After reporting at the police station, we complained to BEDC, but they denied. We told them that we suspected foul play because how come the cable was cut a day after they removed the fuse?
“We are not owing them. I have also been there to complain several times that the bill they give us is too much as they give every flat N15,000 on monthly basis.
“To our surprise, they told us we are owing BEDC N24 million electricity bill and that until we pay the bill, they will not replace the stolen cable.
“We will not stop this protest till they restore our light and provide prepaid meters for us because we cannot take the cheating any longer.”
Meanwhile, a breakdown of law and order was swiftly prevented by men of the Nigeria Police as well as officials of the DSS as some of the youths had headed for the office of the BEDC when they barricaded gate to the premises and disallowed BEDC officers from gaining entrance in their offices.
It took the spirited effort of the security agents to prevent the Business Manager, Igbara-oke Unit, Mrs. Iyabo Adefemi from being assaulted by the raging youth as she was assisted out of her office amid tight security.
It was learnt that the District Business Manager was taken to the old police headquarters, where a meeting was facilitated between her and Fanibi community representatives towards finding an amicable solution to the issue.
However, the youths, who disclosed what was discussed during the closed-door meeting, fumed that Mrs Adefemi did give definite answer to the specific time electricity would be restored to the community.
One of the youths disclosed that Adefemi assured that she would order for cables as replacement for the stolen ones from BEDC headquarters in Benin but without a definite time-frame for the arrival of the cables.
“The Area commander has waded in and asked her to restore our light within two days. We are to also hold another meeting with her to come to conclusion as to some houses that are still owing but we are likely to stage another protest if it takes her too long to restore our light,” the youth said.