The Bureau of Public Enterprises, BPE, has ordered the Enugu Electricity Distribution Company, EEDC, to hand over the disputed Ring Fenced Islands at Aba and Ariaria, in Abia State, to Afrigem Integrated Utilities Limited.
The assets were recently sold to Afrigem by Geometric Power Limited and Aba Power Limited, which hitherto owned majority stakes in them.
However, in a quick reaction, the EEDC terminated the lease agreement, citing breaches by Geometric and Aba Power. It has also gone ahead to explore other means to assert its right.
Aba Power and Geometric Power have, in trying to excise the ring-fenced islands at Aba and Ariaria from EEDC, argued that an existing agreement with the Federal Government gives it ownership of those portions of the South-East electricity distribution market.
Enugu Disco, on the other hand, has continuously affirmed its rightful ownership of the Aba distribution, noting that the Aba area, Owerri-Nta, Osisi Oma, Ogbor Hill, Factory Road, and Port Harcourt Road in Aba, Abia State, with its assets, are all integral part of the Enugu Disco coverage and cannot be excised.
The BPE’s decision appears to have stoked the controversy between the EEDC, and Geometric and Aba Power.
While BPE may have ordered the Enugu Disco to hand over the disputed areas to Afrigem, there is however no clear indication that the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission, NERC, approved the ownership transfer between Aba Power/Geometric Power and Afrigem.
There are allegations that Aba Power and Geometric Power owe AMCON N70 billion, but sold its stake to Afrigem for N35 billion.
Managing Director, EEDC, Mr. Robert Dickerman, argued that Geometric’s assignment of its interests to Afrigem without his company’s knowledge or consent is a breach of the Lease Agreement.
Confirming the emergence of Afrigem as its new investor, Aba Power Limited, in a letter by Agatha Nnaji, a director, said: “We acknowledge with thanks receipt of the various letters from the Bureau of Public Enterprises, BPE, to the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission, NERC, Enugu Electricity Distribution Company, EEDC, and our new investors, Afrigem Integrated Utilities Limited, all dated 12 August, wherein you unequivocally stated BPE’s firm stand and decision to uphold the contents of the Lease Agreement and the Supplemental Lease Agreement.”
EEDC takes case to Presidency
Dissatisfied with the BPE’s decision, Enugu Disco has taken the matter to the Vice President, who supervises the privatization programme as Chairman of National Council on Privatization, NCP.
The electricity company, among others, asked for the withdrawal of BPE’s letter dated, August 24, for the handover of the Abia-Ariaria section of EEDC network to Afrigem, in observance of the Rule of Law, pending the determination of the case by the Court of Appeal. (Vanguard)