….Company Mulls Civil Suit As Labour Threatens To Withdraw Members From Trouble Spots
By James Ezema
A soldier in the Nigerian Army, who was identified as one Corporal Ibrahim Auta, whose number was given as NA07NA2672 and said to be serving at the 266 Light Battalion of the Nigerian Army, has been accused of brutalising a female staff the Abuja Electricity Distribution Company (AEDC), Khadijat Umar.
The soldier, who allegedly committed the offence on Thursday has been arrested and is currently assisting the Mararaba Division of the Nigeria Police, Nasarawa State, to unravel the circumstances that led him to physically assault her and inflict a deep cut on the head of Kadijat Umar, a Marketer with the power distribution firm.
Disturbed by the increasing spate of attacks on its workers, AEDC Management has directed its Legal Department to speedily institute a civil suit and pursue criminal proceedings against the Army Corporal, a Customs Officer and three other persons who had in the last few weeks assaulted AEDC staff in order to serve as a deterrent to others.
According to an eyewitness accounts, which was corroborated by the soldier, Khadijat Umar was on a house-to-house routine revenue recovery exercise with other colleagues when they found out that the house where Corporal Auta lives, which was earlier disconnected, had been illegally reconnected.
Upon interrogation at the Police Station, Corporal Ibrahim Auta admitted that the AEDC team came to his place and upon their arrival, his attention was drawn to their presence in his neighbourhood.
He noted that when he came out, he saw that AEDC ladder was resting on the electric pole in front of his house.
According to him, there ensured an argument over the issue of illegal reconnection and the decision of the AEDC staff to disconnect his house for outstanding debt and illegal reconnection.
Corporal Ibrahim Auta further admitted slapping female AEDC staff.
Some other AEDC staff who were also at the scene of the incident alleged that Corporal Ibrahim Auta brutalized their colleague by flogging her with his army belt.
According to them, when they arrived at Corporal Ibrahim Auta’s house, they saw that it had been reconnected though by their records, the house ought to be under disconnection.
Rather than produce his evidence of payment, Corporal Ibrahim Auta allegedly entered his house, came out with his Army belt and flogged Khadijat Umar.
Responding to the incident, the MD/CEO stated that “in the last few weeks, AEDC has seen a sudden increase in serious assault occasioning harm visited on its staff.
“This is unacceptable to us as a business entity. We owe our workers the duty to provide protection for them in the course of doing their lawful work.
“We are currently working with the relevant security agents to ensure that those involved in this disdainful conduct including (i) Mr. Iliyasu Ayuba, the Customs Officer who used a service weapon to threaten our staff in Minna and forced them to reconnect himMr. Iliyasu Ayuba, the Customs Officer who used a service weapon to threaten our staff in Minna and forced them to reconnect him even when he is owing a huge debt, (ii) Army Corporal Ibrahim Auta who conducted himself in a manner contrary to service rules and regulations by beating up a harmless woman, and (iii) the old man that wielded two machetes against AEDC Staff whilst going about their lawful duties are brought to justice”.
In their separate reactions, the FCT Chairman of the National Union of Electricity Employees (NUEE) – Comrade Godfrey Abah and the FCT Branch President of the Senior Staff Association of Electricity & Allied Companies (SSAEAC) – Comrade Leticia Ejendu have also said the two labour unions may be constrained to ask their members to withdraw their service and stop working in locations where any of them is attacked.
“Reports from our various members have shown an increase in attacks on our staff. These attacks are unlawful, unwarranted and provocative.
“Our members cannot work round the clock to provide electricity only for them to be beaten up and severely injured by some few misguided elements in the society when we go back to request payment for the services rendered.
“We have told management that if in future this is allowed to happen again, our workers will have to take appropriate lawful steps to protect themselves”, labour vowed.