Unsettled N15m permit: Ekiti Council unseals BEDC office, as Fayemi, Ewi intervene
After five days of persistent power outages in Ado- Ekiti, the Ekiti State capital, due to the shut down of the Benin Electricity Distribution Company’s (BEDC) office by the Ado-Ekiti Local Council Authority, the authorities of the council on Monday unsealed the premises of the electricity firm, following interventions of prominent leaders in the state.
Recall that the Council put the company’s office located at the Ajilosun, Ado-Ekiti under lock and key on April 27, an action which resulted in power outages across the communities in the state capital.
Mrs Omotunde Fajuyi, Council Chairperson while addressing journalists, on Monday, disclosed that the BEDC would be reopened tentatively for the next two weeks to give room for the company to pay the outstanding debts.
She noted that the decision was taken after the state governor, Dr Kayode Fayemi and the Ewi of Ado, Oba Rufus Adejugbe intervened on behalf of BEDC.
Fajuyi said, “that the payment of taxes to the council area is a constitutional matter and that BEDC being a private and profit-making organisation should fulfil its responsibilities to the state.
She noted that despite plea by the Governor, the Council would do everything legally possible to ensure the company pay the backlog of operation permit to the authorities.
She insisted that it was disheartening to note that since the BEDC came into existence in Ekiti State, the company has evaded tax till date in spite of the enormous billing burden it places on electricity.
“With the BEDC arrogance and demonstration of being above the law, Ado Council area on 27 April 2021 decided to seal one of the numerous Offices of BEDC within the council to enforce compliance with our requests.
“On May 11, 2021, a delegation from the BEDC held a meeting with the Council, where the team claimed that they have the mandate of their headquarters to attend the meeting and negotiate on behalf of BEDC.
“At the meeting, where the bye-law was shown to this team, an agreement was reached that BEDC was owing to the LG N10 million only being charges due for the eight years it has defaulted.
“BEDC through his team requested for an arrangement to make them pay the money thrice, requesting that a letter be forwarded to their office to this effect for onward transmission to their headquarters in Benin and further requested that their office be opened.
“To the dismay of the LG, BEDC instead of fulfilling the agreement reached , the council came up with a letter from their legal retainer, threatening fire and brimstone. Their first letter was followed by a subsequent letter of intention to commence legal action. And the local government on its part is not leaving any stone unturned in ensuring that lawless attitude of BEDC regarding tax evasion is redressed.”
Fajuyi decried that many communities had been without electricity supply for many years despite the exorbitant estimated billing system, which she said is exposing residents to untold hardship.
Earlier, the Public Relations Officer of BEDC Operations in Ekiti, Kayode Brown, while responding to the claims by the Council Chairperson, denied that BEDC was owing the council.
He claimed that the fee is not payable in the other three mandate states of the company.
He further stated that the case has been reported to the company’s head office where it would receive appropriate actions.
“We are not owing. What happened is this, we operate in Edo, Delta, Ondo, and Ekiti. We do not pay what the Ekiti local government is demanding on these states.
“What we are guarding against now is that there are 16 local government areas in Ekiti, about 18 in Ondo, so if we succumb to them now, it means every other council area will now begin to do the same.
“We have made a report to our Head office and I think they are handling it.” Mr Brown noted. Brown was however not available as at the period of going to press to react on the new development.