NERC Disowns Former BEDC Board, Recognises Ajagbawa-led Team

NERC Disowns Former BEDC Board, Recognises Ajagbawa-led Team

The Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission, NERC, has thrown its weight behind the new Board of Directors and Management of the Benin Electricity Distribution Company, BEDC, headed by Henry Ajagbawa, stands.

Affirming the authenticity of the new board, the NERC, in a statement it issued on Thursday, September 1, 2022, reiterated that the BEDC “is a distribution licensee of NERC and by virtue of powers vested in the Commission by the Electric Power Sector Reform Act (“EPSRA”), 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 (NESI)”.

The Commission stated that the BEDC is a jointly-owned venture with Vigeo Power Ltd holding with equity of 60% and 40% being held by BPE on behalf of the Federal and State Governments.

The statement disclosed that “One of the shareholders in Vigeo Power Ltd, Vigeo Holdings Ltd, subscribed to its shares vide a loan from Fidelity Bank Ltd”, adding that “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”.

NERC stressed that “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”.

The full text of the statement reads:

“The attention of the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (“NERC” or the “Commission”) has been drawn to public notices signed by Mr. Lucky Ayomoto purportedly acting on behalf of the erstwhile board/management of BEDC Electricity Plc. (“BEDC”)

“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 ljose, 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 (“EPSRA”), 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 (“NESI”).

“The general public may wish to note that BEDC is jointly owned by private investors with Vigeo Power Ltd holding equity of 60%, and 40% 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 (“BPE”) 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.

“The Commission reviewed and approved Messrs Henry Ajagbawa, K.C Akuma, Adeola liose, Charles Onwera and Yomi Adeyemi as interim board of directors for BEDC with Mr. Henry Ajagbawa as Managing Director.

“The Commission notes 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 have 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 Commission has a statutory responsibility to the electricity market and this responsibility which is exercised in the public interest outweighs any perceived private interests.

“The general public is hereby advised to note that 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.

“All stakeholders and members of the general public are enjoined to provide the required support to the interim board of directors as they work on ensuring continuity of service to end-use customers in the BEDC network area”.

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