Ugbegun community in Esan Central local government area of Edo State has accused the Benin Electricity Distribution Company, BEDC of victimising residents by throwing them into darkness for apprehending and handing over to the police one of its officials caught in the act of vandalising and stealing armored cables.
The traditional ruler and residents of the community raised the alarm that they have been in darkness for over six months since the theft and apprehension of the BEDC staff who was handed over to the police but was reportedly released in a suspicious manner thereby compounding the situation.
They attributed the adamance of the electricity provider in restoring power to the community to the action of the community leaders and vigilantes in apprehending the said BEDC staff and handing him over to the police. Alleging a plan to cover up the incident which they posited had crippled business activities in the community, they appealed to the BEDC management and other relevant authority to come to their aid.
The traditional ruler of Ugebgun, His Royal Highness, Samuel Obade, and the Itohan of Ugbegun, Mathew Emiohe, bemoaned the suffering of the community due to the non-availability of electricity occasioned by the cable theft. Obade said, “We have been mandated to defend our facilities in our domain, and that we have always done. Sometimes in August, we increased our vigilance arising from what we were hearing from neighbouring clans, and we caught someone in Ikiogbe sub-station but he ran away. We caught the second person vandalising armored cable at the substation and was handed over to the police.
According to him, the alleged culprit was an engineer (name withheld) in the Igueben sub-station. “The vigilante saw him red-handed. A day before, they saw him take a ladder from someone’s house, climb the high tension, and loosen the cable with the pretense that he was clearing grass around the transformer. We have a force station in Ugbegun with over five staff, and if he had no ulterior motive, he should have asked the staff to come and clear the grass around the sub-station. The vigilante saw him on the motorbike with another person behind him holding the armored cable. We called in the police, but they were neither here nor there”, the royal father said.
Corroborating the position of the traditional ruler, Emiohe called for the immediate restoration of power and said residents have been thrown into total darkness since the theft, adding that they have been victimised for crying out.
The BEDC however denied knowledge of the incident. Its public relations officer, PRO, Evelyn Gbewen, said they were yet to be briefed on the matter.
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