Electricity consumers in Ado Ekiti have staged a peaceful protest against the Benin Electricity Distribution Company(BEDC) over what they termed ‘over-billing’.
They accused the company of demanding for a sum of N40,000 from them before providing pre-payment meters, describing the action as tantamount to fraud and extortion.
Operating under the aegis of Ado Ekiti Landlords and Ladies Electricity Consumers Association of Nigeria(ALLECAN), the protesters who claimed that such demands are not being made by BEDC in other states vowed to henceforth pay N3000 monthly to the company until the meters were made available to them.
The Chairman of the Association, Dr. Ibukun Ogundipe, who led the protest demanded that electricity consumers across Ekiti should be provided with pre-paid meters to ensure accurate and appropriate billings.
The protesters who converged at the popular Fajuyi park, march through Okeyinmi junction via Ijigbo roundabout and converged on the BEDC’s office at Ajilosun area of the state capital where they were addressed by their chairman.
Some of the inscriptions on the placards they displayed read: ‘BEDC, Stop Oppressing Us, We are tired of your Fraudulent Action, ‘No Be Only Snake Dey Swallow Money, EFCC Must Probe BEDC’, No Pre-paid Meters, No Payment’, Stop Extorting Us, BEDC Staff are Thieves’, No light, yet high billings, please pack your load and go away among others as they chanted various songs to deride BEDC.
There were massive deployment of police, men of the Department of State Services (DSS), Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC) and Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC), to forestall hooligans from hijacking the protest.
Addressing the protesting consumers, Ogundipe said it was wrong for BEDC to be giving between N13,00 and N18,000 as electricity bill to a three-bedroom bungalow when electricity last for between two and three hours daily.
Ogundipe added: “Pursuant to inability of BEDC to meet our first demand, we shall henceforth start paying N3,000 per month as our legitimate bill without any regard to whatever figure or amount posted on our bills.
“Our Lawyers have been briefed to take appropriate legal action to challenge these unmitigated pains on every electricity consumer in Ekiti , Ado Ekiti in particular.”
Ogundipe added that the management of the company had indicated interest to dialogue with the group, saying, “legal action will be deployed if dialogue fails.
“Anywhere across the world, prepaid meters remain the best way to measure the actual amount of megawatts consumed and Ekiti case can’t be different”.
Reacting to the protest, BEDC Public Relations Officer, Mr Kayode Brown, said the company now generates 9,500 megawatts of electricity for Ekiti with daily electricity supply of between eight and 12 hours, saying the upsurge in electricity supply pushed the tariffs upward.
“The protest is a legitimate right, but payment of N3,000 monthly electricity bill doesn’t correspond with what we offered. This was the amount we were charging when the megawatts supply to Ekiti was 4500 and it has doubled now”.
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