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EKEDC Boardroom Battle: Chairman, Directors Clash Over MD’s Sacking

Members of the board of the Eko Electricity Distribution Company are at loggerheads over the sack of the company’s Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer, Dr Tinuade Sanda.

The firm replaced Sanda with Mrs Rekhiat Momoh, who was said to have taken over on Tuesday.

It was gathered that Sanda’s sack was communicated through a letter signed by the EKEDC Chairman, Dere Otubu, on March 25.

According to Otubu, the decision to relieve Sanda of her duties followed a directive from the Nigeria Electricity Regulatory Commission.

“We have received a directive from NERC stating that all staff working for the utility must be employed directly by the utility, bound by applicable service conditions that are applicable to the employees of the utility, and paid through the utility’s payroll.

“The Disco is obligated to comply with these directives due to the powers of NERC as stipulated in the Electricity Act 2023. In compliance with the aforementioned directive, all seconded staff from WPG Ltd are being released by Eko Electricity Distribution Plc and returned to WPG Ltd.

“Accordingly, you are hereby relieved of your role, office, and position at Eko Electricity Distribution Plc effectively immediately, and returned to your employer, WPG Ltd,” Otubu had said.

The media reported earlier that some senior staff members of the Eko DisCo were recently accused of ghost worker recruitment, fraud and negligence; a claim the firm said was unfounded.

Reacting to the allegation, NERC ordered thorough investigations, while directing that all existing WPG secondees be returned to their original employer.

While announcing the change of leadership, the DisCo said, “We wish to inform the general public that Mrs Rekhiat Momoh has on 26th March 2024 assumed the role of Acting CEO of Eko Disco.

“This follows the redeployment of our erstwhile MD/CEO Mrs Tinuade Sanda back to WPG Ltd, the core investor who seconded her to Eko Disco.

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Mrs Tinuade Sanda

“We have great confidence in her ability to perform this role effectively and take the company to greater heights,” the EKEDC said.

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However, in a rebuttal on Wednesday, a Director and Chairman of the Legal & Regulatory Committee, Mr Babor Egeregor, disagreed with the chairman over the sack of Sanda.

He said the NERC did not order the removal of any staff either seconded to or hired by EKEDC, except those connected to the alleged fraud and negligence.

“The said order of the NERC, herein displayed, are unambiguous, incapable of, and unyielding to plural interpretations. There was nowhere in the order where NERC requested the removal of any staff either seconded to or hired by EKEDC, except those connected to the alleged fraud and negligence i.e., Wola Joseph Condotti, Sheri Adegbenro, and Aik Alenkhe,” he said.

According to Egregor, NERC’s directives were issued to compel the board of EKEDC, following picketing by the union and unrelenting staff protests, “to act appropriately in the face of the determined position of a majority of the board members to cover up the alleged use of ghost workers together with the alleged fraud and protect Wola Joseph Condotti, especially”.

“Mr Dere Otubu’s letter, therefore, was done in bad faith and in vengeful revenge against the MD/CEO for escalating the alleged fraud and issuing queries against one of his protégés, whom he has desperately sworn to protect by all means.

“Rather than comply with the orders of NERC, a recourse to subterfuge was hatched with the purported termination. There are no doubts about a deliberate agenda and unconcealed mischief to misread the orders of the NERC to malign Dr Sanda’s reputation for daring to escalate and issue queries to Wola Joseph Condotti for alleged fraud through the use of ghost workers for three years, and continuous payment of salaries to exited staff despite personally receiving their resignation letters,” Egregor stated.

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He added that similar queries were issued to the Chief Audit and Compliance Officer, Sheri Adegbenro, and the Chief Human Resources Officers, Aik Alenkhe, “for their failure and gross negligence to audit and detect fraudulent payments on payroll for over three years”.

On the appointment of Momoh as the Acting MD/CEO, Egregor said, “The board of EKEDC, on which I sit, has neither met nor decided on the purported appointment of Mrs Rekiah Momoh as Acting MD/CEO, except Mr Otubu and his close circle of colleagues have transformed themselves into ‘the board’.

“I and all well-meaning members of the EKEDC board, I believe, should vehemently distance themselves from this contrivance.

“The board is not a one-man show, and matters are to be collectively deliberated on and approved by Board members. Mrs Momoh is the Chief Commercial Officer of EKEDC and remains so.”

Amid the allegations of fraud, the director took pride in saying that the EKEDC was known for due process and legality, adding that anything that would erode the commitment to due process and corporate governance would be resisted.

“Therefore, let it be known that Dr Tinuade Sanda remains the MD/CEO of Eko Electricity Distribution Company and has since her assumption of office as the MD/CEO, turned EKEDC around for good, with very great milestones and achievements which every sector player recognises.

“She made EKEDC the number one distribution company in Nigeria. The investors, board, and management of EKEDC believe firmly in her leadership and look forward to many more record-setting and breaking moments,” he submitted.

Contacted, the EKEDC spokesperson, Babatunde Lasaki, told our correspondent that Sanda was not sacked but only asked to step aside “until the realignment of the structural management process is completed”.

According to Lasaki, Momoh was appointed to avoid a vacuum

Source: Punch

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