By; BALA B. BITRUS, Minna
Poor electricity supply in Niger State has continued unabated despite repeated outcries, protests and stand up against the power distribution company, the Abuja Electricity Distribution Company, (AEDC) even as Police and other security agencies are now permanently stationed at power infrastructure offices to protect them from angry youths who have sworn to vent their spleen on the company.
The expectations for improved electricity supply to homes and business concerns across Niger state is still bleak and far from actualization even as youths have continued to threaten to clamp down on the company.
On Thursday, a crowd of youths took their grievances to spiritual realm as they gathered and prayed against the continous poor services by the power distribution company and what they called ”government’s insensitivity” to the plights of citizens in the state who have been suffering from recurring power outages, poor power supply, reckless power surges and resultant hazards on lives and properties of citizens in parts of the state.
The youths have been having issues with the authorities in the state who have had to draft state’s instruments of coersion to silent protesters and coerse them to stay away from protesting against the power distribution company.
The protesters have therefore turned their heat on the state governor, Abubakar Sani Bello who they accused of not defending the rights of citizens in the state against the continous exploitation and disregard of the rights of the citizens by the power distribution company, (AEDC).
On Thursday, the youths, in their numbers, staged another occupy protest over the attitude of the state government which has refused to do anything tangeable to compel the AEDC to do the needful and stop further exploitation of hapless citizens through over billing, corrupt practices and other despicable acts of carelessness and unprofessionalism.
The youths leader, Comrade Mohammed Saidu Etsu told journalists during the peaceful sit out protest which was held at the 1-2-3 Quarters play field in Minna, said the protest was to register their displeasure over ”continous poor electricity supply, high tariffs charge for no services rendered and continues harassments of citizens by AEDC officials who often indiscriminately disconnects supply lines to homes and business premises under flimsy excuses.
Comrade Etsu criticised governor Sani Bello for turning deaf ears to the people’s outcries and feigning blind to the havoc wrecked on people’s properties by the reckless activities of the AEDC.
He told newsmen that they have resolved to carry their plights to God Almighty for intervention and answer.
“We have resorted to calling on Allah for divine intervention. We Muslims and our Christian members have decided to pray and invoke the powers from above. We are doing the recitation of the Holy Quran and other holy books to press home our demands” he said.
Etsu accused the AEDC for being mindlessly unrealistic in their conducts. ”AEDC indiscriminately disconnects homes at will. For instance they will give you estimated bill of N5,000 and expect you to pay it and when you pay anything less, they will still come and disconnect your supply line. How did they arrive at the rate they are charging us since many homes do not have metres? He queried.
The protesters who had planned to carry their protest to the Government House, Minna were disrupted by the Police assault team led by Assistant Commissioner of Police, (Operations), Mohammed Baba Kura who warned them against continuing with their planned protest.
The team of Police personnel drafted to the sit out venue, had swiftly swooped on the youths as they converged at the 1-2-3 Field to commence their protest. Just before they file out, the Commissioner of Police, Dibal Paul Yakadi arrived the venue along with his retinue of security to add further bite to the Police on the ground.
The state Commissioner of Police, Mr. Dibal Yakadi ordered his men to immediately disperse the gathering.
In his reactions, Comrade Etsu lamented that it was a gang up by establishment. “The Police have taken sides with the state government who have clearly shown support to the AEDC against the entire people of the state”.
He disclosed that the Police had invited them for a meeting where the executive members of the association were intimidated and threatened with arrest. They collected our phones and detained us but later released us”, he said.
Comrade Etsu vowed that the youths will continue to resist attempts by the state government in collaboration with with the AEDC to cheat the citizens.