Corpses rot in Nigeria’s Army mortuaries over power cuts

THE Nigerian Army is seeking the intervention of the Federal Ministry of Power over the N42 billion debts owed by the barracks and cantonments, which resulted in power cuts and subsequent decomposition of corpses at the Army mortuaries.

The Army said the decomposition of the corpses had led to their relations protesting.

The Chief of Army Staff (CAS), Taoreed Abiodun Lagbaja, a general, disclosed this Thursday while making an appeal visit to the Minister of Power, Adebayo Adelabu.

He sought the minister’s intervention for the clearance of the backlog of electricity bills of over N42 billion and described the prevailing situation in the barracks as “security threats.”

According to him, “Debt owed is loaded on the metre, so no matter the amount of credit we put, the meters pick it automatically. Corpses in the Army mortuaries are decomposing, and the owners of the corpses are protesting”.

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He further stated that the Army could not raise funds to pay the entire debt and solicited for liquidation as was done in 2005 by former President Olusegun Obasanjo.

He assured the Minister of the Army’s unflinching support towards developing intelligence strategies to curb electricity infrastructure vandalism.

The ICIR reported that the Abuja Electricity Distribution Company Plc (AEDC) threatened to disconnect power supplies to government ministries, departments, and agencies (MDAs), including the Presidential Villa, indebted to it unless the affected MDAs liquidate their debts.

President Bola Tinubu hastened and ordered the payment of N342 million out of the disputed bill of N923 million, according to AEDC records.

Lagbaja regretted that some barracks and cantonments had been in total blackout since January.

However, the Minister of Power informed CAS that the debts could not be wiped off but could only be restructured for payment monthly.

Adelabu further revealed that debt owed by distribution (DisCos) and generating companies (GENCOs) was not the only challenge of the power sector.

He stressed that the vandalisation of power infrastructure, which often led to national grid collapse, was a major concern.




     

     

    He said theft, inefficiency in the billing and collection process, poor metering gap, liquidity, shortage in gas supply, and transmission stations being blown up were all issues experienced in the power sector.

    “The fundamental issues in the power sector value chain could be traced back to the last 50 years, and a government that is barely eight months old cannot use a magic wand to proffer a solution. There is a saying that you won’t know what is happening in Rome until you get to Rome “, he said.

    The Minister, who acknowledged that power outages were not peculiar to Army barracks but a national issue, said the DISCOs and GENCOs were profit-oriented organisations. “We can only plead with them to adopt a repayment plan every month instead of embedding the whole debt in their meter.”

    While encouraging the Army to continue to assist the ministry in safeguarding power infrastructures across the nation, the minister pledged to seek collaboration with the Army through any of the development partners for the installation of Solar PVs and Battery Energy Storage Systems (BESS) as an alternative power supply in Army barracks and cantonments.

     

     

     

    Harrison Edeh is a journalist with the International Centre for Investigative Reporting, always determined to drive advocacy for good governance through holding public officials and businesses accountable.

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