The Benin Electricity Development Company has been ordered to pay a sum of N20 million as damages to the Edjemuonyavwe community in Oghara following their disconnection from the national grid since November 2017.
According to The PUNCH, the order was given by a High Court sitting in Oghara, Delta State.
The trial judge, Justice A. A. Ighoverio also ordered the reconnecting of the community to the national grid.
While delivering judgement in the suit marked HCH/29/2018, and filed by the Urhobo community against the BEDC, Justice Ighoverio declared the disconnection of the community from the power grid as unlawful upon the Disco’s failure to comply with the existing electricity regulations.
Consequently, the court ordered the immediate reconnection of electricity in the claimants’ community and further ordered the defendant, BEDC, to pay to the community the sum of N20 million as general damages.
The court dismissed the counter-claim of the BEDC for the payment of N174,210,449.92 alleged to be an outstanding bill.
Our correspondent learnt that there was jubilation in the agrarian community when the news of the judgement broke.
It was learnt that the community had in 2016 agreed to the bulk metering of electricity consumption in its five quarters consisting of about 300 rural households.
The residents claimed that after about 16 months into the said contract and with the continuous payment of the agreed bills, the community was suddenly presented with a total bill of N174,210,449.92 as outstanding, a development which did not go down well with them.
The leadership of the community, consequently, proceeded to the court to challenge the said bill which they described as bogus, estimated, and inflated, and sought clarifications, especially on the basis that there were no industries within the community or heavy commercial activities capable of consuming such bills.
It was further learnt that the community’s leadership initially pursued an amicable resolution of the dispute, until the firm allegedly disconnected the electricity supply to the entire community, without serving relevant legal notice in November 2017, crippling economic activities in the area