Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Eastern Electric Heads to Court over Enugu Disco

NCP to meet in absence of key members

 Ejiofor Alike, This Day
Wednesday, September 18, 2013

 The intrigues over the privatisation of Enugu Electricity Distribution Company yesterday assumed a new dimension as Eastern Electric Limited, the reserve bidder for the asset has approached a Federal High Court sitting in Abuja to restrain the National Council on Privatisation (NCP) and the Bureau of Public Enterprises (BPE) from handing over the asset to Interstate Electrics Limited, after Interstate failed to meet the August 21 deadline for the payment of the 75 per cent of the transaction value of the asset.

This is coming as the NCP is said to have scheduled a meeting for Friday to deliberate on the Enugu Disco in the absence of the Coordinating Minister for the Economy and Minister of Finance, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala and the Minister of Power, Prof. Chinedu Nebo, among others, some of whom are key members of the NCP.
 
Okonjo-Iweala will lead a team of cabinet ministers to the United States on September 20, ahead of President Goodluck Jonathan’s working visit, where he will address key investors at the New York Stock Exchange on September 23.
 
THISDAY gathered that Eastern Electric, through its lawyer, Chief Wole Olanipekun (SAN), Tuesday asked a Federal High Court sitting in Abuja, to declare that Interstate Electrics was no longer eligible to pay the 75per cent transaction price, having failed to meet the August 21 deadline.
 
Though details of the court processes were sketchy, THISDAY gathered that Olanipekun had also asked the court to direct the BPE to invite Eastern Electric to pay for the asset as the reserve bidder.
 
Olanipekun, however, confirmed to THISDAY last night, that he initiated the court action on Monday on behalf of Eastern Electric and had served the BPE all the necessary court processes.
 
“We have served the BPE with the court processes. So, they are aware,” he said.

 A top member of the NCP also told THISDAY yesterday that he received a circular on Monday night, scheduling a meeting for Friday in the absence of “highly principled ministers and other members of the NCP who are opposed to the current intrigues over Enugu Disco.”
He alleged that the NCP meeting was strategically fixed on Friday to exclude these key members from participating in the deliberation on the matter, so that an unpopular decision could be taken.
 
“They sent out a circular last night, fixing a meeting on Friday when some members, including the Minister for Power, will be out of the country. These are the members who will stand for the truth. Is it proper for all these people to be absent when such crucial issue concerning the power sector will be discussed? This is part of the intrigues we are talking about,” he said.
 
Eastern Electric Limited had earlier indicated its willingness to pay for the assets, after Interstate failed to complete the full payment on August 21, as stipulated in the document the investors signed on February 21, this year.
 
Interstate paid the 75 per cent transaction value of the Enugu Disco piecemeal in two installments, after the expiration of the August 21 deadline, fuelling concerns that the investor would face an uphill task raising working capital needed to rehabilitate and upgrade the power asset.
 
But the consortium said in a capital investment proposal submitted to the BPE that it had a budget of N41.66billion for the upgrade of the asset in the next five years.
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