NERC defends appointment of interim board for Benin DisCo

THE Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) has said the new interim board it appointed for Benin Electricity Distribution Company (BEDC) should be accorded recognition as the legitimate board for the DisCo.

NERC, in a statement issued on Friday, said it appointed the new board for BEDC in line with its mandate as the regulatory body in the Nigerian Electricity Supply Industry (NESI).

The regulator faulted moves by the former board and management to remain in charge of the DisCo.

NERC, in the statement, insisted it was the only entity vested with the authority by law to recognise the appointment of the company’s board.

The statement said, “The attention of the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission has been drawn to public notices signed by Mr. Lucky Ayomoto purportedly acting on behalf of the ertswhile board/management of BEDC Electricity Plc.

“The public notices published on 9 August 2022 sought to reassure the general public on the legitimate and statutorily recognised board of directors/management of BEDC and described the appointment of Messrs Henry Ajagbawa, K.C Akuma, Adeola Ijose, Charles Onwera and Yomi Adeyemi as directors of BEDC as an ‘unlawful misrepresentation and unfortunate misadventure’.

“BEDC is a distribution licensee of NERC and by virtue of powers vested in the Commission by the Electric Power Sector Reform Act, regulatory instruments issued pursuant to EPSRA and the terms and conditions of the licence issued to BEDC; NERC is the primary authority that is vested with powers to statutorily recognise the board/management of BEDC as an operator in the Nigerian Electricity Supply Industry.

“The general public may wish to note that BEDC is jointly owned by private investors with Vigeo Power Ltd holding an equity of 60 per cent and 40 per cent being held by BPE on behalf of the Federal and State Governments.

“One of the shareholders in Vigeo Power Ltd, Vigeo Holdings Ltd, subscribed to its shares vide a loan from Fidelity Bank Ltd. In the light of a default in servicing the said loan, the bank has exercised its rights to repossess these shares that were provided as security for the acquisition loan.

“Upon repossession of shares of Vigeo Holdings Ltd by the bank, an application was filed by the Banks and the Bureau of Public Enterprises with the Commission for the approval of an interim board of directors and management for BEDC in compliance with NERC’s business continuity arrangements for licensees.”

NERC added that it “reviewed and approved Messrs Henry Ajagbawa, K.C Akuma, Adeola ljose, Charles Onwera and Yomi Adeyemi as interim board of directors for BEDC with Mr. Henry Ajagbawa as Managing Director” of the DisCo.



    The statement noted that the erstwhile management of BEDC challenged the appointments in court after the regulatory and shareholder interventions had been completed.

    “The actions taken by the contending parties for the control of BEDC has been primarily unsettling for end-use customers in Edo, Ekiti, Delta and Ondo states that are reasonably concerned about continuity of their service and other NESI stakeholders that are concerned about BEDC’s ability to meet its obligations to the market,” the statement noted.

    Noting that it has a statutory responsibility to the electricity market, NERC stressed that the responsibility which it exercises in the public interest outweighs any perceived private interests.

    “The interim board comprising of Messrs Henry Ajagbawa, K.C Akuma, Adeola ljose, Charles Onwera and Yomi Adeyemi are the only directors of BEDC recognised by the Commission,” NERC declared in the statement.

    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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