Human rights groups, under the Edo State Civil Society Organisations, have accused the Benin Electricity Distribution Company of intimidation and oppression of customers in the state.
They threatened to stage a mass protest against the distribution firm in order to draw public attention to what they described as the oppressive policy of the company.
The coalition made this known on Tuesday while reacting to the alleged assault of one Innocent Okpara by security personnel attached to the Benin Disco.
Okpara was said to have been brutalised allegedly on the orders of an expatriate worker with the company for requesting his electricity cables after they were disconnected over an unpaid electricity bill.
It was learnt that he had petitioned relevant authorities over the incident, demanding justice.
The victim was also said to have later settled the electricity bill, but was allegedly instructed to withdraw the petitions before he would be reconnected.
But BEDC denied the allegation, saying the said security agents were neither attached to the company nor engaged by it.
The Head of Corporate Affairs, BEDC, Mr. Tayo Adekunle, explained that the customer, said to be a civil society member, under the Etete business unit of the company, had been disconnected several times for not paying electricity bills to the tune of over N80,000 but kept reconnecting himself illegally to the network without sorting out the debt.
Adekunle added, “There is no iota of truth in the alleged molestation of a civil society member by BEDC officials, albeit our United States Agency for International Development partners.
“The officials promptly disconnected him without resistance, only for him to later complain that his service wire should be returned to him and that the USAID officials had no right to do so. The service wire is usually taken away for safety reason and to serve as deterrent. It is a policy position of BEDC.”
However, the statement by the spokesman for the CSOs, Mr. Osazee Edigin, read in part, “They disconnected a citizen while he was trying to take hold of his cables. The white man working with BEDC ordered the military personnel to take him on; he was brutalised.”