Workers of the Ibadan Electricity Distribution Company say they have become fearful in their office after some soldiers attached to the 35 Artillery Brigade, Alamala Barracks, Abeokuta, Ogun State, allegedly beat up one of them over “poor power” supply.
They told Punch that the soldiers, numbering about six and led by one Major Musa, stormed the IBEDC substation – Olumo business hub, Rounder – on March 6 and met one of them, Salau Adekunle, on duty.
They were said to have descended on Adekunle, the substation’s distribution officer, with horse whips.
It was learnt that presently on the average, the barracks and environs got five hours supply daily, which falls short of the soldiers’ expectation.
The victim, whose back bore effects of the flogging, said he ended up in a hospital because of the beating.
He said, “I was on duty on that day around 12pm when the soldiers came into our office with horse whips. They told me to get up and without explanation, they started beating me. I had to go to the hospital for treatment. I informed our head office and it promised to do something about it.“They had come earlier then to threaten us. We reported at our head office and the head of the barracks was petitioned. They complained that they did not get supply regularly, but it is not our fault. They said they would be the ones to determine the number of hours they want power. We told them it was not possible, but they didn’t want to listen.”
Adekunle’s colleague, who does not want his name in print, said they had explained to the soldiers that the outage was caused by a reduction in the power generation nationwide, adding that the explanation fell on deaf ears.
He said the unit officials had received threats from the barracks authorities, making them to be afraid whenever they were on duty. He stated that the barracks had power for between eight to 15 hours everyday until recently when power generation dropped nationwide.
He said, “Electricity supply is divided into three levels – generation, transmission and distribution. This implies that generation affects transmission, which in turn affects distribution. The relationship between them is directly proportional. If there is less sufficient generated power, then there will be less power at our own side to distribute to the community, including the barracks. Before now, there was supply for at least eight hours and at times, 15 hours.“Electricity generation has reduced from 4517MW to 2800MW and now to over 1500MW. All this is known and understood by the soldiers in the barracks, but they pretend as if they do not know; that is why they now get five hours’ supply per day. Initially, the soldiers blamed us. Soon, it graduated to threats. They once arrested us and took us to their barracks and detained us for hours; l was a victim.”Another official said they had been living in fear since the incident happened, adding that threats from the soldiers had intensified.“They (the soldiers) said it would not be threats again, but killing. Major Musa said he would send soldiers we don’t know. We spoke out because we cannot wait for them to kill us,” he said.
Attempts to speak to the spokesperson in the brigade proved abortive. However, a soldier attached to the brigade confirmed the attack to our correspondent on the telephone.
The soldier, who did not want to be named because he was not authorised to speak to the press, said, “I am aware of it (the attack), but I was not around when it happened. Power supply is not regular in the barracks. We used to have power for eight to 10 hours.”
Major Musa, however, denied leading soldiers to attack the electricity workers.
He said, “All the information is false. You can come to the barracks to get the correct information.”