This Day (Lagos)

29 November 2012

Nigeria: NERC Petitions Presidency Over Wamakko's Alleged Assault of PHCN Worker

The Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) has written to President Goodluck Jonathan, urging him to initiate a full-fledged investigation into the alleged assault of three officials of the Power Holding Company of Nigeria (PHCN) by the Governor of Sokoto State, Dr. Aliyu Wamakko.

NERC also requested in a petition to the president that was also copied to the Inspector General of Police (IGP), Minister of State for Power, management of Kaduna Electricity Distribution Company (KEDC), the National Union of Electricity Employees (NUEE), National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), Chairman, Nigeria Governors Forum (NGF) and Director General, State Security Service (SSS), for a conciliatory statement from Wamakko that will assuage the anger of electricity workers and other stakeholders in the sector.

According to the content of the letter, which was signed by the Chairman of NERC, Dr. Sam Amadi, and obtained by THISDAY Wednesday in Abuja, the alleged act by Wamakko was an unfortunate abuse on the fundamental human rights of the three PHCN officials and could upset the progress of the Federal Government's reform exercise in the power sector.

Amadi thus, asked President Jonathan to advise governors of states in the country to desist from conduct that violates the rights of electricity workers in their various states as this may lead to the termination of electricity services in the states.

He added that as the country transmits into a private sector-managed power sector, such display of lawless acts could trigger unwholesome chain reactions from operators in the sector.

The letter partly read: "I write to inform Your Excellency that on Saturday, October 20, 2012, the Business Manager of the Power Holding Company of Nigeria (PHCN) Gwiwa business unit Sokoto, M. L. Osigwe and two other staff of the business unit, Malam Isyaku Dauran (Officer 2 electrical) and Malam Nuruddeen Mohammed (Staff 1 lines) were allegedly assaulted by the Governor of Sokoto State, Alhaji Aliyu Magatakarda Wamakko.

The governor was not happy that the 2.5MVA, 33/11 KV transformer in his hometown of Wamakko in Sokoto State has failed even after he provided funds to PHCN for the provision of the transformer. M. L. Osigwe and his team alleged that in a stage of rage the governor used a koboko/horse whip to flog him and asked his mobile police security details to beat him to the state of unconsciousness."

He further stated: "As a result of the incident, the National Union of Electricity Workers called on their members to lay down their tools and embark on a strike, this eventually plunged Sokoto and its environs into darkness.

We want to inform Your Excellency that as a commission, we have directed that power should be restored immediately to Sokoto because innocent Nigerians should not be made to suffer as a result of the action of one individual."

"Your Excellency, it is quite unfortunate that a governor of a state will take the law into his hands and descend to the level of assaulting a staff of a utility company that serves the people of his state. We want to use this medium to kindly request Your Excellency to advise governors of the states to desist from conduct that violates the rights of electricity workers in the states as this may lead to the termination of electricity services in the states.

"Furthermore, Your Excellency may advise the Governor of Sokoto State to issue conciliatory statement that will assuage the anger of electricity workers and other stakeholders in the sector," Amadi explained.

While requesting for an investigation on the alleged incidence, he said: "Your Excellency may consider directing the Inspector General of Police to investigate circumstances leading to such an ugly incident involving mobile policemen assigned to the Governor of Sokoto State.

We wish to emphasise that as we enter into a private electricity market such lawless actions can lead to major crisis in the sector and drastically affect adversely Mr. President's bold reforms of the sector."

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