13 November 2012

Nigeria: Executive Recklessness in Sokoto

The action of Wamakko, the Sokoto State governor, is excessive and abuse of the law

The reported flogging of some officials of the Power Holding Company of Nigeria (PHCN) by the Governor of Sokoto State, Aliyu Magatarkada Wamakko, on account of failure to supply electricity to his village, Wamakko, is nothing but executive recklessness. If the story is as captured by PHCN, nothing in the books justifies such extra-judicial barbarism.

As the Acting Managing Director of Kaduna Electricity Distributing Company (KEDC), a PHCN subsidiary, Mohammed Adamu explained, "on Saturday, October 20, 2012, an unusual and unfortunate event took place which was beyond our comprehension. On the said date our business manager, Giwa Business Unit, Sokoto State, Moses Osigwe, was invited by Wamakko to his personal residence, over the issue of lack of power supply to his hometown, Wamakko, as a result of a failed 2.5MVA transformer." Adamu further stated that the governor accused the staff of deliberately denying his community of power supply, adding, "as the business manager was trying to explain to him, the governor brought out a horse whip (popularly known as koboko in Hausa language) and lashed him."

Adamu said the governor's brutality did not stop at humiliating the business manager, but that he "also invited and instructed two hefty mobile police men to continue with the beating until the business manager became unconscious." As if that was not enough the governor was alleged to have further invited two other staff of the company and directed his policemen orderlies to also beat them up.

In dismissing the allegation as spurious, Wamakko's Senior Special Assistant on Media, Malam Sani Umar, said: "As you are aware, the people of Wamakko council had suffered for over one year because of lack of electricity. So, the governor gave PHCN N17 million to install a new transformer so as to restore power supply in the area. But to his utmost surprise, nothing was done and that is why he summoned the Business Managers and after the meeting he handed them over to security for further interrogation." For effect, the Governor's spokesman added: "These guys are just mischievous and there is no way they will undermine the people of Wamakko local government council and expect to go free."

We find it difficult to comprehend why a governor would take the law into his own hands in such an irresponsible manner. Even the lame defence put up by Wamakko's spokesman clearly indicates that his principal went beyond the call of duty. If he had issues about supply of electricity to his village and he suspected sabotage or dereliction of duty on the part of the officials, there are more civilized ways of handling such matters.

We must note that not many Nigerians can vouch for the quality of service excellence of the PHCN even when it was known as National Electricity Power Authority (NEPA). Its notoriety for power failures and outages across the country could get to a nauseating point. In fact the organisation is known for billing consumers for services not rendered and sometimes for recklessly disconnecting power supply for no just cause. But the pains that PHCN inflicts on consumers do not in any way call for jungle justice against the staff in the manner exhibited by Governor Wamakko.

There is no doubt that the Governor's action may have indeed violated the fundamental rights of the affected PHCN staff, a violation made more egregious when committed by the chief law officer of the state. This is more so as PHCN is not one of those state government-owned companies the personnel of which governors are in the habit of maltreating with impunity. We condemn the governor's action as executive recklessness as it has no place under our laws.

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