BPE, NBET differ on $146.8m Yola Disco refund

Two government agencies are at loggerheads over the refund of about $146.8m to Integrated Energy Distribution and Marketing Company, which had acquired and relinquished the Federal Government’s 60 per cent equity in the Yola Electricity Distribution Company Plc.

Apart from the power of approving and authorising the payment for the share buyback deal, investigation by our correspondent showed that the absence of a substantive Finance minister had created a chasm for disagreement on the responsibility for the refund.

While the Bureau of Public Enterprises, which sold the enterprise to the IEDMC, says the Nigerian Bulk Electricity Trader has taken over the responsibility for the settlement of the liability, the NBET insists that the responsibility is that of the privatisation agency.

The Head, Public Communications, BPE, Mr. Alex Okoh, told our correspondent that the NBET had taken over the responsibility for the refund of the core investor, which acquired majority stake in the YEDC, but pulled out as a result of the activities of the insurgency group, Boko Haram.

However, a top executive of the NBET, who spoke to our correspondent on the condition of anonymity, said there was no agreement between the two organisations.

The official said, “There was no agreement that the NBET should take the responsibility. It is the BPE that sold the company and they are in custody of the Share Purchase Agreement. The BPE is also a shareholder in the company.

“Besides, we don’t have a board that can approve such payment. There is no Finance minister to authorise any payment. We cannot take our capitalisation fund to pay for the Yola Disco. When the IEDMC opted out of the YEDC because of Boko Haram, it was the BPE that approved the deal.”

The former core investor in YEDC had on six occasions (November 10, 2013; August 27, 2014; October 15, 2014; April 9, 2015; April 30, 2015 and May 13, 2015) given notice of force majeure to the government.

The force majeure clause is a standard clause in most contracts and includes events like natural disasters, wars and other occurrences not within the power or control of the executing party that makes implementation of the contract impossible.

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