Cross River State has been Plunged Into Darkness as Officers of the Nigerian Naval Command – NNS Victory, in Calabar the Cross River State capital allegedly kidnapped staff of the Port Harcourt Electricity Distribution (PHED) Plc on Saturday, March 11, 2023 in their regional office in Calabar, the capital city of Cross River State.
The incident was said to have occurred in the afternoon when ten men identified to be Navy officials stormed the company premises fully armed and whisked away staff of the company who were on duty. The Naval officials we gathered carried out the illegal operations on the orders of Commodore Vincent Gbaranwi of the NNS Victory Command and Rear Admiral Mike G. Oamen, Chief of Staff to the Flag Officer in the Command.The invading officers were said to have stormed the business premises of the electricity distribution company and kidnapped the staff, in protest for the disconnection of Akim Navy barrack and Atimbo barrack. The Naval Command is alleged to be owing the Port Harcourt Electricity Distribution (PHED) Plc over N740m in unpaid electricity bills accumulated over the years, and an additional current monthly electricity bill charge of N22m.
Although, the command is said to have countered the allegation of kidnapping, eye witnesses who saw the incident noted that no warrant of arrest was presented before the action and no charge has been brought against the over fifteen staff of the company whom the officers claim they did not kidnap but arrested, yet they are still incommunicado as at the time of this report.
Meanwhile, as the officer executed the alleged kidnap, customers in the company and other members of staff scampered for safety, abandoning their duty post, work tools and millions of naira they had collected from responsible customers who come to the office to pay their electricity bills.
Unfortunately, a female staff of the company and a nursing mother, Mrs Abigail Omori, who had collapsed in the process was secretly rushed by the Officers to the Reference Hospital, a Naval medical facility in Calabar for treatment. As at the time of this report, the company has not been allowed access to Mrs Omori and nobody is able to tell her condition.
Following this incident, all PHED sub-stations in Cross River state have been shut down and the state plunged into darkness, out of palpable fear of arrest or kidnap of its workers in the state by officers of the Naval Command who had announced to the kidnapped PHED staff that they had orders to shoot any PHED staff found around any electricity infrastructure supplying power to the Naval Command.
Meanwhile, the Regional Manager of the company, Dr. Gabriel Modupe confirmed the incident, insisting that millions of naira collected by staff before the attack are currently missing. He informed that efforts had been made at engaging the Command to pay their electricity bills without success. The matter has been reported to the Nigerian Police and the Directorate of States Security (DSS) respectively whose attempt to intervene has proved abortive.