HeadlineNERC Spots Error In Removal Of Tinuade Sanda As EKEDC MD/CEO, Other...

NERC Spots Error In Removal Of Tinuade Sanda As EKEDC MD/CEO, Other Management Staff, Clarifies Directive

GTBCO FOOD DRINL

March 28, (THEWILL) – The Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) says its resolution on alleged ghost workers and crisis in the Lagos-based Eko Electricity Distribution Company Plc (EKEDC), which the Chairman of the utility provider, Dr Dere Otubu, acted upon to announce the removal of Dr Tinuade Sanda, as Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer, as well as some other management staff, was misinterpreted.

THEWILL reports that EKEDC has been embroiled in what appears to be an unending crisis, which started last year, with the discovery of ghost workers on its payroll amid allegations of fraud by some staff, who seem to enjoy the backing of some shareholders who allegedly blocked the implementation of disciplinary measures against the indicated employees to the chagrin of other shareholders. Tuesday’s sudden announcement of the removal of Dr Sanda, as MD/CEO, further escalated the infighting amongst the shareholders, prompting NERC’s Wednesday’s intervention via a letter to clarify its previous directive to The Board of the company.

Chairman of NERC, Sanusi Garba, provided further clarification to its resolution in a letter seen by THEWILL, dated March 27, 2024, and addressed to Dr Otubu.

The Chairman, Legal & Regulatory Committee of EKEDC, in a statement Wednesday, said in its clarification that NERC stated that: “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.

“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
“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 identified and subjected to Disciplinary Committee proceedings over the allegations of fraud and negligent actions through ghost workers and exited staff, which occasioned financial losses to the Company.”

Below are the full statements by EKEDC and NERC respectively.
Titled, “RE: CRISIS IN EKO ELECTRICITY DISTRIBUTION PLC- NERC PROVIDES FIRM CLARIFICATION”, the statement, read in full:

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:

“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 the 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 have been vitiated and are 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 identified and subjected to Disciplinary Committee proceedings over the allegations of fraud and negligent actions through ghost workers and exited staff, which occasioned financial losses to the Company.
We shall be providing full cooperation with the officers of the Nigerian Police, the Economic & Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) 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 and 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.”

FULL TEXT OF NERC LETTER
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 the 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 recognises 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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