The Protesters

By Ovie Okpare

The people of Agbarha-Otor community in Ughelli North Local Government Area of Delta State on Thursday blocked the Ughelli section of busy East-West Road to protest power outage in the community in the last one year.

Agbarha-Otor community is the country-home of the famous Ibru family in Delta State. It also plays host to the Michael and Cecilia Ibru University.

Residents of the community numbering over 5,000 stormed the Agbarha Junction as early as 7am, calling the management of the Benin Electricity Distribution Company (BEDC) to immediately restore light to the community.

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The protesters comprising youths, women and the elderly said they will continue with their protest and ensure that the Ughelli section of the road becomes impassable commuters plying the East-West to other parts of the country until their plight was addressed.

The protesters lamented that the management of BEDC claimed they would not repair the faulty step-down transfer in the area until the community upset an alleged N70 million that the community owe the company.

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While denying the alleged N70 million debts, they accused BEDC officials of not honouring dialogue meetings to ensure power is restored to communities in Agbarha-Otor Kingdom.

They said whatever the community was owing is nothing close to the amount being speculated, adding that BEDC had vowed not to restore light to the community until the debts were upset.

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Our correspondent who witnessed the protest observed long queues of vehicles up to the Quest Fm in Ogor as the protesters mounted barricades on both lanes of the road to prevent vehicular movements.

They lamented that the blackout in the last two has resulted in the shutdown of small businesses across the kingdom and other neighbouring communities in the area.

One of the protesters, Mr Godwin Aroko, told newsmen that the continued blackout in the area has led to increased criminal activities in the area, adding that the members of the community would no longer keep quiet on the situation.

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Aroko also stated that the Delta State Government, which promised to address the situation prior to the 2019 general election, had also reneged on the promises after voting for the party during the polls.

He asserted, “Agbarha-Otor community in almost three years now has not had light. The government and the management of BEDC are doing nothing about the plight of our people. Just imagine how one could live without power for three years. It is very absurd and appalling.

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“Prior to the 2019 general elections, the Delta State Government promised to intervene and address the issue immediately after the elections were over, we have not heard anything from the state government. Today and the days to come, we have decided to take our destiny in our hands.”

Another protester, Justice Brume, while also lamenting the situation, said the community was not owing BEDC before the outage, alleging that BEDC officials told leaders of the community to provide money to fix the fault.

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However, the protest turned violence when a policewoman who attempted to teargas the protesters, was reportedly attacked by the angry protesters.

The policewoman was bleeding profusely from injuries sustained from attack, and she was reportedly rushed to hospital for treatment.

Meanwhile, efforts to speak with the spokesperson of the BEDC in the area for official reaction proved abortive as her phone was said to be switched off.


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