Ajegunle residents continue opposing exorbitant electricity bills and organise mass protests against mass disconnection
Residents Demand a Reduction in their Electricity Bills and Affordable Electricity Tariff
Residents of Tolu area of Ajegunle, Lagos, are presently involved in a mass struggle triggered by December 2022 electricity bills that are crazily high. Some compounds were billed more than N100,000 and this is a community dominated by working class people and the poor masses.
Rather than dialogue with the residents with the aim of reducing the outrageous and fraudulent bills, the Eko Distribution Company embarked on a mass disconnection of houses, sparking peaceful mass protest and resistance. Eko DISCO mobilised armed policemen from the Tolu Police Station to harass, and terrorize the residents. As a result, not just the leaders (6 community women playing leadership roles) but also other 4 activists, including comrade Moshood coordinator of the Democratic Socialist Movement in Ajegunle, who intervened to give solidarity, were unjustly arrested and detained on January 25.
The detained activists were released on January 26, 2023 following local and international protests as well as public statements. The Coalition for Affordable and Regular Electricity (CARE), a campaign coalition including the DSM, lawyers, and other rights activists also intervened to put pressure on the police to free all detained persons.
On Tuesday, January 31, 2023, at the instance of Tolu Police DPO, a meeting was held between EKO Distribution Company management and the representatives of the Tolu Community. However, before this meeting over 200 Ajegunle residents held a demonstration in the street to register their dissatisfaction against police brutality and the exploitation of EKO DISCO management.
At the meeting which was mediated by police officers led by Superintendent Bassey, the EKO DISCO management team was led by the Public Relations Officer (PRO) while the community representatives were led by Comrade Chinedu Bosah (CARE coordinator and DSM NEC member), Emeka Bosah and Joseph Chukwudi.
The meeting ended in a stalemate after two hours of deliberation because no concrete agreement was reached. Interestingly, the company PRO denied that the management was not aware of the illegal Disconnection of the community from the grid supply for more than three weeks. This is not surprising to us, as it is an attempt to absolve the EKO DISCO management from the atrocities committed against the community.
Addressing a crowd of over 200 people, Comrade Chinedu Bosah urged the residents to remain steadfast and be confident that the struggle will bear fruit as the community continues to struggle together for a better community where things work for all and not just a few super-rich privileged persons. He also criticized the privatization of the power sector and called on the people to demand the return to public ownership but, to avert the debacle of old NEPA, a renationalized company must be placed under the democratic management of workers and consumers. He concluded by challenging the communities to sustain the mobilization, protest and struggle.
Thirty (30) copies of Socialist Democracy (SD), paper of the DSM, were sold on January 31, 2023 protest making it a total of 60 copies that have been sold since the protest broke out.