–No amount of militaristic deployment of heavy Security operatives to Omotosho can stop our peaceful protest -BBOL
–The group said they have changed date of protest to increase number of protesters from 1,000 to 2,000
– We shall visit the power plant at a new date without notice, the group hinted
Reports from Omotosho community, the host community of Omotosho power plant, indicated that there were heavy Security operatives in the community, especially within and around the power plant areas in readiness to stop members of the Bring Back Our Light Group in Ondo South who have officially chosen today, Wednesday, August 29, 2018 to protest the aged long blackouts in four affected councils of Ondo South at the power plant.
Starnews authoritatively learnt that security operatives mounted barricade at every juncture of the community with heavy presence of police, Civil Defence Corps and army personnels at the front of the power plant.
Meanwhile, the convener of Bring Back Our Light Group, (BBOL) Pst Olumide Akinrinlola and its chairman planning, strategy and implementation committee, Hon. Solomon Bitire, have said that no amount of militaristic deployment of heavy Security operatives to Omotosho Power plant can stop the people of Ondo South from exercising their fundamental human rights of peaceful protest against the blackouts affecting four local governments in Ondo South (Okitipupa, Irele, Ese Odo and Ilaje local government respectively)
The group made their position known through a statement issued earlier today and sent to the press.
The BBOL group said it has decided to change the date of the protest slated for today at the power plant to another date off record, which according to them will be communicated to all parties at the appropriate time.
According to Akinrinlola and Bitire, the purpose of the change of date for the protest is to re-strategise and allow other groups like the Nigeria Bar Association (NBA) in Ondo South, all elected State and National Assembly lawmakers , responsible personalities and reputable organisations join in the move.
The full statement issued by the group read:
“It is no longer news that the above named group who has been in the vanguard of the latest effort to restore electricity to four affected councils in Ondo south is planing a peaceful mega protest at Omotosho power plant which was scheduled to hold today Wednesday, August 29, 2019.
“You will recall that four local governments in Ondo South have been in protracted darkness for the past four years due to massive disconnection by the Benin Electricity Distribution Company (BEDC) while some communities under the local governments mentioned were in darkness for the past 10 years including Omotosho town which is also the host community of Omotosho power plant.
“We wish to notify the people of Ondo South in Ondo State that this peaceful protest will hold despite all the threats by security agencies which are being sponsored against us by the management of the power plant in conjunction with the management of BEDC.
“The peaceful protest will hold regardless of any threat from any quarters. We don’t need approval of any security agency before we could hold a peaceful protest to express our grievances in line with the law of this country and with the latest ruling of the Supreme Court. All necessary notices have been served to those concerned. But the date of the peaceful mega protest has been rescheduled to a future date to be communicated to all parties off record in order to increase the number of protesters (residents of Ondo South) from one thousand(1,000) to two thousand (2, 000) and above
“The change of the protest date is to also re-strategise and allow other groups like the Nigeria Bar Association (NBA) in Ondo South, all elected State, National Assembly lawmakers ,responsible personalities and reputable organisations to join us.
“We are not afraid of the over 100 armed soldiers, 50 armed policemen, 20 Civil Defence Corps, coupled with over 50 private guards already sponsored and deployed to the power plant at Omotosho to brutalise and kill our people as threatened by some security chiefs over our plan to have a lawful and peaceful protest to demand for our inalienable right after 10 years of excruciating blackouts despite having a power plant on our soil that gives power supply to Ikeja, Ogun, Benin and Delta while we, the host communities remain in aged long darkness.
“It is disheartening and sardonic that vulnerable states in Nigeria are suffering from insurgency due to inadequate deployment of security personnel, while a public private power plant is enjoying the presence of over 200 armed security men in a peaceful community, at a time many troubled states in Nigeria are yearning for more security operatives.
“There is no war in Okitipupa local government, the host local government of Omotosho power plant, and our people do not have any plans to trigger trouble. We are peaceful and law abiding citizens. Ondo South is the most peaceful senatorial district in the history of Ondo State despite being part of the Niger Delta areas.
“We have been in this struggle to restore electricity to four affected councils since January 2015 without fomenting troubles. We want to believe that the deployment of high numbers of security operatives to Omotosho community is somehow illegally done based on our suspicion of financial inducement by the management of the power plant and the BEDC to stop the people of Federal Republic of Nigeria in Ondo south from expressing their grievances to president Buhari led administration through a peaceful protest which is aimed at exposing some hidden truth and many atrocities against our people who have been wallowing in darkness since 10 years ago. Any attempt by security operatives to stop our protest at the appropriate time, will lead to an infringement on our fundamental human rights which is our property as good citizens of Nigeria.
“We call on the president to investigate the process that led to the deployment of multitude of army and other security personnel to Omotosho community, the host community of the power plant. We don’t know when the army has become civilian guard to corporate organisation in Nigeria.
“We wish to state emphatically that the purpose of our protest at Omotosho power plant is necessitated by the corporate social responsibility failures of the management of the power plant, and their refusal to comply with the Local Content agreement; and refusal by the Benin Electricity Distribution Company (BEDC) to obey the resolution of July 6, 2017 by the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) which directed the distribution company to immediately hook us back to the national grid through a former letter attached to this statement following the proof of illegal cut off established before the commission by our people. Our mission is on a tripod agenda which will be revealled to the general public during our protest .
“We are aware through a source working with BEDC on how Funke Osibodu led BEDC management had boasted in Edo State that NERC is in her pocket, and that, the minister of power, governor Babatunde Raji Fashola, cannot do anything to them as the company management claimed that they have some very powerful, influential politicians behind them.
“We believe that this is why they (BEDC) disobeyed the regulatory commission since July 2017 and nothing happened till date despite our subsequent reminders to NERC. No wonder they refused to obey the resolutions of the house of representatives in Abuja directing them to reconnect the affected councils. We now understood why BEDC does not have any regard for the intervention of the minister of power on this same matter following a stakeholder’s meeting held at the minister’s office sometimes last year. The persuasion by the Ondo State government that BEDC should obey NERC instructions of July 2017 was also not regarded.
“This mega peaceful protest will be used to expose all the atrocities of BEDC to president Muhammadu Buhari and the whole world. We have already compiled the flaws, illegal and unethical practises of BEDC which will be presented in the course of our protest already planned to be given a live coverage by some national television stations. The protest will also serve as a warning, and last warning, to the management of Omotosho power plant to immediately give electricity to immediate communities and fully implement the local content agreement without further delay.
“We urge our people to prepare themselves ready for this operation thunder storm protest planned to express our grievances to president Buhari and the whole world. We have printed lot of branded T-shirt to be distributed freely to accredit our people and more printing of T-shirt are presently in progress towards having a violence free protest.
“Without Struggle, Freedom Will Not Come. We must rise to fight for our right!” the statement added.