Agents of CitiServe, a billing aggregator with the Benin Electricity Distribution Company (BEDC), on Wednesday staged a peaceful protest at the BEDC head office in Benin over blocking of their e-wallets
The protesting agents, who are from BEDC franchise states of Edo, Ondo, Ekiti and Delta, said they have been shut out of businesses since April, following a misunderstanding between BEDC and Citiserve.
They carried placards with various inscriptions such as “BEDC/Citiserve enough of the suffering”; “refund our money, we can not wait any longer”, among others.
Speaking on behalf of the group, Mrs Maureen Gold, a BEDC agent based in Asaba, said the protest was to demand the unblocking of their e-wallet to enable them carry out their businesses on BEDC platform.
“We are agents with BEDC aggregator, Citiserve. We have been doing business with them for the past six years but on April 30, they had issues and BEDC and blocked our e-wallet.
“And some of us have figures like N400,000, N500,000, N1 million in their e-wallet and we cannot access the money to carry out our businesses.
“Our money have been tied down for over five months now. We are demanding the payment of our money and we would not leave here until the money is paid,” she said.
Responding, Mr. Akintunde Akinlabi, BEDC Head, Billing Department, charged the protesters to channel their energy towards Citiserve, who, he said, stalled the payment.
Akinlabi said ”When we severed relationship with Citiserve, we understood that some of their wallets still have some money with us and we contacted Citiserve to provide us with information but they declined.
“We asked them to come so that we know the agents we are owing, about 480 came out of 1,007 agents.
“And BEDC management said we should get the remaining agents to know the total money in order to get a global approval for them to be paid,” he said.
He explained further that when they met with Citiserve managing director and the agent representative in a zoom meeting, the MD categorically said that if BEDC decided to pay the agents with the balance on their terminal, BEDC would pay for eternity.
“So how do we go ahead to commence payment when the company they have direct contact with is asking us not no pay and they are aware of this.
“We are not saying we are not going to pay, but Citiserve has not availed us the balance of their terminal.
“We have also told them to get everybody together and let’s know what they have on their terminals.
“And if that is impossible, do us a letter on your association’s letter-headed paper for us to know you are representing the 1,007 agents in our franchise, stating that only the 480 agents have balance in their wallets.
“And that any other agent that comes outside these, we should not attend to them but they have refused to write us the letter.”
According to Akinlabi, “when we demanded for their terminals, out of the 480 that claimed having money in the wallets, only 250 of them provided their terminals for us to know if they have money in it.