A BEDC Staff who is a Senior Technician with the Benin Electricity Distribution Company (BEDC), Agbor Business Unit, Mr. Christopher Okonkwo narrowly escaped death while performing his official duty, having been mal-handled by some aggrieved electricity consumers.
In a chat with Ika Weekly Newspaper Reporters while narrating his ordeals, BEDC Staff Mr. Christopher Okonkwo, stated that on Friday, April 6, 2018, between the hour of 6pm to 6:30pm, he got a phone call through one Mr. Friday Moses, about a fault in the transformer in front of Barrister Frank Nwugo’s residence along Owa-Ekei road, Boji Boji Owa, continuing, he said after receiving the call, being the main engineer on duty, he went to the location in company of Mr. Chukwudozie Uche Benjamin the fault man on duty and Mr. Innocent Osawe; according to him they discovered that there was an up-riser cut, upon the discovery, they step up their ladder in order to carry out their duties, of which he needed to enter the substation to load the remaining fuse.
Speaking further the main engineer a BEDC Staff said immediately he entered the substation two men came out from Barrister Frank Nwugo’s compound and rushed to the substation and ordered him to reconnect their compound with electricity supply, having been disconnected by the management of BEDC for nonpayment of their indebtedness to the company, he refused their request explaining that it was not his duty to reconnect them because the disconnection was done through the cable and it was not his job to reconnect cable.
Mr. Okonkwo, said men were not satisfied with his response, rather they threatened him, saying whether he likes it or not he must reconnect them and if he refuses to reconnect them, they will kill him saying immediately after the statement they began to slap him and started hitting him with hard objects. The BEDC official said he knows the men very well facially but he doesn’t know their names, he revealed that while still hitting him they locked him in the substation and insisted that he must reconnect Barrister Nwugo’s compound.
Continuing, he said that after much beating he had to call the dispatch office and told term them that there was a wire cut and requested them to switch off the supply, after which he reconnect the Barrister’s compound in order to save his life. Mr. Okonkwo, disclosed that though they were three that went to work at the place, his other colleagues managed to escape, saying that there was no way he could have escaped because he was locked up in the substation, explaining that it took the intervention of the management of BEDC who came with some military men to release him from his captors at about 7:30pm. He however, stated that he does not know whether Barrister Frank Nwugo, was around in the compound when he was held hostage and beaten by the two men who came out from his residence. When asked by the reporters if he has had any problem with the persons living in the compound previously, he said no.
Speaking with Ika Weekly Newspaper reporters, Engr. Kenedy Asuwata, the BEDC service manager Agbor Business Unit, stated that at about 6:30pm on that faithful day, he had a call from the driver Mr. Innocent Osawe who said he managed to escape from the place where he was chased by some mob with sticks, but that the mains engineer Mr. Okonkwo, while working in the substation was held hostage and was seriously being beaten.
Continuing, the service manager said, he went to Ugbaja Police station, Boji Boji, Owa to report the incidence after explaining what brought him to the station to the D. P. O. whom he said informed him that they were short of manpower but that they would attend to him after attending to the several persons that came before him. According to Engr. Asuwata, he called on his superior officer informing him about the development, who suggested that he should to the military barracks along Owa-Ekei road, Owa, for their assistance in rescuing his men.
Speaking further, he said some military men accompanied him and on getting to the place there was a large crowd of people. He said, the military men gave out orders that nobody should move, and asked Mr. Christopher Okonkwo, to identify the men that locked him up in the transformer which he did, after which the military men picked the two men and put them inside their vehicle. In his word, “When we got to the military barracks the military me said we should find a way to resolve the issues, but I responded that I cannot do that considering how they mal-handled a staff on official duty”.
The service manager disclosed that not being satisfied; he left the military barracks in company of the three BEDC staff to the Ugbaja police station. At the police station he stated that the police officer on duty, told him that since, the military personnel did not handover the two men to them, they cannot do anything, stressing that that was what they were supposed to do.
The outgoing business manager of BEDC Agbor Business Unit Mr. Curtis Nwadei, stated that he got a call from the service manager Engr. Asuwata Kenedy at about 7:35pm telling him how Mr. Christopher Okonkwo was beaten and held hostage by some hoodlums who came from Barrister Frank Nwugo’s compound and threatened him to reconnect his compound that BEDC disconnected. Continuing, he noted that the people in the said compound are fond of reconnecting themselves illegally each time they were disconnected, saying that, that was why they disconnected the compound in a way that they cannot be able to reconnect themselves.
Speaking further, Mr. Nwadei stated that they discounted the Barrister after he had annexed the transformer under the pretence of protecting transformer from vandalism, explaining that at that point Barr. Nwugo created no entry point for the BEDC staff to the transformer except they have to go in through his compound, he stated that it took the intervention of retired commissioner of police Omire, for him to close the entrance he created inside the compound, he further revealed that BEDC have been having running battle with that compound, saying that “in the last two years, the house had paid electricity bill only twice, totaling sixty thousand naira”. He stated that the police have taken statements from his men, will write officially to the military to produce the two men to the police, the issue being a civil case. The business manager further revealed that the current indebtedness of Barrister Frank Nwugo to BEDC is Four Hundred and Ninety Three Thousand, Three Hundred and Nine Naira Sixty Kobo.
In a telephone chat with Barr Frank Nwugo, he said he was not at home when the said BEDC staff was held hostage. His words, “I was only informed through a telephone call that some persons suspected to be vandals were seen working in the transformer in front of my house at about 7pm and one among them who claimed to be a staff of BEDC without identity card to prove himself was apprehended to be handed over to security agency for interrogation. Speaking he said that “on several occasions, we have heard series of vandalization and this has made us to be conscious of the transformer feeding us in order not to face the problem of vandalization”.
While stating that no BEDC staff was beaten in his compound, Barr Nwugo explained that about two weeks ago, BEDC disconnected him which he said was not a problem to him, lamenting the monthly estimated billing by BEDC and their refusal to give him prepaid meter which he said he has long applied for.