Abuja – The Association of Nigerian Electricity Distributors (ANED) has condemned the burning of an injection substation (owned by Ibadan DisCo) in Ilesa, Osun by protesters.
It also condemned attacks of electricity workers and journalists by the protesters.
The association also condemned the recent attack of staff of Ikeja and Eko DisCos, who were discharging their duties in their coverage areas.
ANED’s Executive Secretary, Research and Documentation, Mr Sunny Oduntan, made the condemnation at a media briefing in Abuja on Sunday.
Irate protesters in Ilesa had brutalised four journalists covering a protest against Ibadan DisCo over disconnection of electricity in Ijesha zone.
The protesters were also alleged to have attacked the business center of Ibadan DisCo in Ilesa on March 14, where they destroyed and burnt down electricity distribution equipment and brutalised some staff of the company.
Oduntan said: “we had an issue of staff assault, we have a video trending, where an Ikeja electric staff was beaten up and assaulted by customers.
“The other one had to do with Eko DisCo staff, which was also heavily assaulted where he was performing his legitimate duty.
“As if that is not enough, we now had the carnage that happened in Ilesa, Osun state under the Ibadan electricity distribution company.
“We feel that ANED needs to respond robustly to this, for people to understand the issues in the case of Ilesa, we condemn it in its entirety.
“The act of the people of Ilesa, those people who went as far as burning down injection substation, because the moment you burn down your infrastructure, you cannot have light.
“And I invite those who are saying we should restore light to Ilesa, to visit the injection substation and may be replace it, so that we can restore the light,“ he said.
Oduntan said Ibadan DisCo had a responsibility to engage the customers to ensure that the scenario would not occur again.
He, however, said the engagement should not be justification for anybody to burn down a DisCo infrastructure all in the name of protest.
“People need to understand that the moment they break down and vandalise these equipment in the name of protest, they are not helping their community.
“If you have a grievance, there are laid down procedures and ways by which you can resolve the grievance, without resorting to violence. So ANED condemns in practical terms, the destruction of properties, and our office in Ilesa.
“The protesters stole money, they stole phones, they beat up our staff, they beat up journalists, both print and electronic media journalists, some of them were hospitalised.
“Some of these protesting youths of Ilesa came with machete and I think the issue should not be descending to that level, if we really want to have electricity,’’ he said.
He said ANED had perfected plans to engage with leaders of the communities to resolve the issues, noting that violence was not a means of correcting grievance with any DisCo.
Oduntan also urged the media to balance their reports on issues in the sector by making conscious efforts to see what the Discos were doing in providing services to their customers.
He said: “I have said in different fora that yes the DisCos are not doing enough, we need to do a lot more than what we are doing, but that does not justify violence at all.
“Imagine the journalists that went to cover the story at Ilesa were beaten up, why should anybody beat up journalists?
“A journalist at the scene of a situation is performing his or her lawful duties, so there is no reason to beat them up. So we should all work together to appeal to people to see reasons, even where we are not happy with the services rendered,” he added. (NAN