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EKEDC CEO Saga: NERC Clarifies ‘Misinterpreted’ Directive

EKEDC Crisis: NERC Clarifies 'Misinterpreted' Directive
Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) has addressed issues at Eko Electricity Distribution Company Plc (EKEDC), which resulted in the removal of Dr Tinuade Sanda as Managing Director/CEO and other management staff.

Gatekeepers News reports that NERC’s initial directive was due to alleged ghost workers, internal conflicts, and shareholder disputes. However, Sanda was dismissed by EKEDC’s chairman, Dere Otubu who quoted NERC’s directive.

Babor Egeregor, the Director and Chairman of the Legal and Regulatory Committee of EKEDC, in a statement on Wednesday, annulled Sanda’s removal, maintaining that NERC’s directives did not explicitly call for removing any staff except those involved in alleged fraud and negligence.

NERC Chairman, Sanusi Garba also clarified in a letter dated March 27, 2024, addressed to Otubu. Similarly, EKEDC confirmed NERC’s clarification in a statement that admitted that initial orders were taken “erroneously”.

See EKEDC and NERC’s statements below:

“RE: CRISIS IN EKO ELECTRICITY DISTRIBUTION PLC- NERC PROVIDES FIRM CLARIFICATION

We refer to the publications made in relation to the above.

We hereby inform the Nigerian Electricity Supply Industry (NESI) stakeholders and the general public that by a letter dated 27th of March 2024, NERC has clarified its directive which was earlier misapprehended and misconceived and , on which basis the MD/CEO Dr. Tinuade Sanda and other Management Staff were purportedly recalled to the parent company, WPG Limited.

According to NERC, “ The Commission has noted the strong public interest generated by the current event at EKEDP and the various interpretations of the resolutions conveyed vide the said letter, particularly, with respect to paragraphs (4b) and 4(c). We therefore hereby provide further clarifications as follows :

1. _Paragraph 4b- All staff of EKEDP, irrespective of their form of engagement, will be subject to the Conditions of Service of EKEDP. The Commission deemed it necessary to pass this resolution based on the submission of EKEDP, at the meeting of 20 March 2024, that *the Condition of Service (“CoS”) of EKEDP was not applicable to Seconded personnel from third party providers

2. Paragraph 4c – EKEDP Board is expected to conclude its review of its investigation into the allegation of Ghost workers to identify all personnel involved in causing loss of revenues to EKEDP no later than 27th March 2024. In a case where the indicted parties are seconded from third party providers and since they are reportedly NOT subject to the EKEDP CoS, they are to be recalled to their parent companies to avoid the risk of further losses to EKEDP”

We appreciate the proactive action of the Commission and the clarifications, which unambiguously mean that:

(A) all contracts of employment of anyone working for EKEDP, whether of WPG, EKEDP, or otherwise, must be subject to and regulated by the Condition of Service of EKEDP.

(B) The legal fulcrum and basis for the purported recall of the seconded staff has been vitiated and now non-existent since the basis of the recall of the seconded staff was the initial misinterpretation of the previous NERC Resolution/Orders

(C) The express recall and termination of the contract of employment of staffers/employees whose actions led to a loss of revenue to EKEDP. The staff, namely:

Wola Joseph-Condotti, Sheri Adegbenro and Aik Alenkhe -who had been subjected to Disciplinary Committee proceedings, the outcome of which has been contested by some Board members, including the Federal Government representative, the Bureau of Public Enterprise.

Consequently, the seconded Management staff of WPG Limited, whose recalls were done in “error” are hereby mandated and required to return to their respective duties and offices EXCEPT those named above, already identifiied and subjected to Disciplinary Committee proceedings over the allegations of fraud and negligent actions through ghost workers and exited staff, which occassioned finanical losses to the Company.

We shall be providing full co-operation with the officers of the Nigerian Police, the Economic & Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and the leadership of the Nigerian Body of Benchers and relevant members of the Legal Practitioners Disciplinary Committee for further actions for closure on the alleged fraud.

We once again thank the Regulator for providing this clarification, the NESI stakeholders general public for their kind concerns, and the Staff of EKEDP and WPG Limited for their patience through all of this.

Therefore, all initial orders or actions taken erroneously are hereby immediately reversed .

Signed

The Chairman, Legal and Regulatory Committee

NERC’s letter reads in full;

RE: ALLEGED GHOST WORKERS IN EKO ELECTRICITY DISTRIBUTION COMPANY- CALL FOR INVESTIGATION

We write further to our letter Rel, No. NERC/REG/EKEDC/GEN/S432/T/36 of 21 March 2024 conveying the resolutions of the Commission to Eko Electricity Distribution Plc (“EKEDP”) on the alleged ghost workers in the company.

The Commission has noted the strong public interest generated by the current events of EKEDP and the various interpretations of the resolutions conveyed vide the said letter, particularly with respect to paragraphs 4b and 4e. We therefore hereby provide further clarification as follows:

i Paragraph 4b- All staff of EKEDP, irrespective of their form of engagement, will be subject to the Conditions of Service of EKEDP. The Commission deemed it necessary to pass this resolution based on the submission of EKEDP, at the meeting of 20 March 2024, that the Condition of Service (“CoS”) of EKEDP was not applicable to Seconded personnel from third party providers.

ii. Paragraph 4c – EKEDP Board is expected to conclude its review of its investigation into the allegation of Ghost workers to identify all personnel involved in causing loss of revenues to EKEDP no later than 27th March 2024. In a case where the indicted parties are seconded from third party providers and since they are reportedly NOT subject to the EKEDP CoS, they are to be recalled to their parent companies to avoid the risk of further losses to EKEDP.

In closing, the Commission recognizes the powers of West Power and Gas ltd and the EKEDP Board of Directors on the deployment and redeployment of staff including changes to the management of the utility at any point based on a credible corporate governance framework and in furtherance of the fiduciary responsibility of directors. This letter only seeks to provide clarification on the Commission’s earlier communication on this subject to avoid varied interpretations and further to the overriding public interest.

Please accept the assurances of the Commission’s best regards and consideration.

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