Posted by News Express | 7 December 2017 | 25,082 times
The International Society for Civil Liberties & the Rule of Law (Intersociety) and Southeast Zone of the Civil Liberties Organization (Southeast CLO) have expressed deep concern “over the lawlessness and syndicated criminal activities going on in the Enugu Electricity Distribution Company (EEDC). Electricity as the livewire of the people of Southeast Zone or Igbo People of Nigeria and driving force of the economy of the Zone has been brutally denied the people of the Southeast.”
The two eminent rights groups made their feelings known in a joint statement entitled “Rescuing Igbo People from the Bondage of EEDC & Nefarious Conducts of its Ogbaru, Onitsha & Ogidi Business Districts”. Issued on Wednesday in Onitsha, the statement was signed by Intersociety Board Chairman Emeka Umeagbalasi and Southeast CLO Chairman Comrade Aloysius Emeka Attah.
The statement further reads: “The social content of the power supply in the Zone (steady and affordable power supply, social convenience and happiness) is speedily on the brink; to the extent that criminal syndicates have taken over; running riot on vulnerable consumers in the Zone with reckless abandon. The oversight agencies and other mechanisms put in place to checkmate the excesses of the Company so as to compel same to do the needful and subscribe to its corporate social responsibilities; appear helpless or compromised. Such bodies like NERC and Customers’ Complaint Units look as if they have been perpetually infested by “EEDC virus”.
“As a matter of fact, EEDC has become an outlaw; flouting its terms of agreement with the Federal Government that led to granting of license to same to distribute and market power supply to the people of Southeast Nigeria. The most disastrous of it all is the reckless abandon and impunity with which EEDC breaches the clear provisions of the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission Act (Electric Power Sector Reform (EPSR) Act No 6 of 2005).
“It is recalled that EEDC was formed in 2012 after its major investors successfully, if not controversially won a federal bidding license to take over the assets and liabilities of the defunct Power Holding Company of Nigeria (PHCN) in Southeast Zone. Electricity in Nigeria is divided into generation, transmission and distribution with EEDC granted a federal license in the area of distribution to distribute and market electricity in Southeast Nigeria; a major industrial zone in the country.
“Major owners or directors of EEDC are: Mr. Emeka Offor (chairman), Senator Ken Nnamani (director), Prince Adetokumbo Kayode (director), Dr Stephen Dike (director), Mr Kester Enwereonwu (director) and Mr Amaechi Aloke (alternate director BPE-Rep). The Acting Managing Director & Chief Executive Officer of EEDC is Mr. Paul Okeke. The Company has a 13-person Executive Management Team.
“Also, EEDC is presently divided into 18 Business Districts with six in Anambra; namely: Onitsha, Awka, Nnewi, Ogbaru, Ogidi and Ekwulobia Districts; four in Enugu: Awkunanaw, Abakpa, Nsukka and Ogui Districts; four Imo: Mbaise, Owerri, New Owerri and Orlu Districts; three in Abia: Ariaria, Aba and Umuahia Districts; and one in Ebonyi: Abakiliki District.
Today, EEDC has become a torn in the fresh of the people of the Southeast Nigeria. In all recent performance surveys of NERC and independent others carried out on all DISCOS in Nigeria, EEDC remains the least performing DISCO (Power Distribution Company) in Nigeria. The demand and supply content of EEDC is virtually nothing to write home about; other than robbing Peter to pay Paul and ripping from where it never sowed.
“Not only that industrial and non industrial consumers of EEDC are totally left to shoulder the responsibilities of procuring, installing and maintaining distribution transformers and their accessories, they are also over-billed, threatened, forced, despised and extorted. Customer service or public complaint response is provocatively and acutely slow and in the event of faults on transformers or feeder lines, it takes ages to restore same; except where the affected consumers are ready under duress to defray the costs of their repair or replacement. General power supply in the entire Southeast Zone is also acutely low or unsteady; with industrial growth and social living crashing irreversibly.
“Till date, EEDC has no acceptable standardised methods or processes of billing its customers especially the non industrial customers or consumers or single phase residential customers. The Company issues outrageous and crazy bills to its customers with reckless abandon and runs riot on those who pay half of the imposed monthly outrageous bill through violent disconnection of their power lines.
“In Anambra’s six Business Districts of Onitsha, Ogbaru, Awka, Ogidi, Ekwulobia and Nnewi, outrageous monthly bill of as much as N10,000 to N15,000 or more is now imposed indiscriminately and forced on each customer to pay. A consumer that pays half of the outrageous monthly bill so imposed (i.e. N5,000 out of N10,000 or N7,000 out of N14,000) instantly and violently stands disconnected; unless he or she pays fully what was imposed.
“Through this criminal method, EEDC illicitly rakes in tens, if not hundreds of millions of naira on monthly basis through the criminal disconnection. For “each of the single phase residential customers” or non industrial consumers (R2S), a mandatory fixed extortionist fee of N1,000 imposed as “reconnection fee”; for “each of the three phase customers” (R2T: CIT), N2,000 is imposed; for “each of the DITI customers (i.e. churches, hospitals and schools), N5,000 is imposed; and for “each of the maximum demand” or industrial customers, N10,000 is imposed.
“The indiscriminate issuance of outrageous and unmetered monthly bills has also led to high volume of accumulated arrears; running into tens, if not hundreds of thousands of naira for each of the affected consumers. This forms bulk of what EEDC tags “billions of naira unpaid bills owed EEDC by electricity consumers in Southeast”. In many residential areas, estimated monthly bill has become higher than monthly house rent.
“Despite the NERC’s clearly stipulated procedures for power line disconnection such as non disconnection of those that pay reasonable part payment; non disconnection of the entire residential building including where most residents have paid as well as ensuring proper issuance of pre disconnection notice to the affected customers, etc; EEDC has gone on rampage; disconnecting customers with reckless abandon; all with intention of intimidation, extortion and criminal enrichment. The Company has also introduced various methods of criminal disconnection alien to Nigeria’s power sector reform and its processes including total disconnection of a street or community transformer, disconnection of feeder line and disconnection of the entire residential building including where most residents have paid their bills.
“A clear case in point was on 30th November 2017, when the Network Manager for Ogbaru Business District, Engr. Obi Ughasoro ordered his field personnel to remove all fuses in the Mission Road/Chioma Hospital Bus Stop “33” Feeder Transformer; accusing the consumers in the area of “paying underpayment at flat rate of N5,000 per consumer; instead of paying average monthly estimated bill of N10,000 per customer”. The area is still in total darkness till date. Each consumer in the area is forced to pay monthly estimated bill of between N10,000 and N14,0000.
At Iyiowa Layout under the same Ogbaru Business District “33” Feeder Transformer, the story is the same, if not worse. This important area; with total of over 650 flat apartments, churches and 450 provision stores/vocational outlets including private hospitals and schools; have been thrown into total darkness for over 10 days or since 25th November 2017.
“The total darkness was effected from “33” Feeder Line disconnection ordered by the same Ogbaru Network Manager, Engr. Obi Ughasoro; accusing the area of “paying underpayment” in the out-gone month of November 2017. Till date, the area is still in total darkness with no traces of any major fault on the existing “33” Feeder Line or its Awada and GCM host stations. As if that was not enough, some churches in Ogbaru have their power lines disconnected few weeks ago; after being accused of “paying below their monthly bills”.
“There are existing NERC directives and billing methods for billing “single phase residential customers” in the entire 18 EEDC’s Business Districts in Southeast Nigeria. Such directives and billing methods include provision of prepaid meters or in the interim, billing of the referenced class of consumers especially those with malfunctioning meters and unmetered consumers using “average monthly consumption units of the functional post paid meters”; which has highest monthly average of 150 units per N30.93k or less than N4,700 per consumer.
“Conversely and sadly, EEDC not only observes these clear directives and streamlined billing methods in gross breach, but it also indiscriminately imposes and dishes out between 300 and 500 units monthly to each of its “single phase residential customers” in Southeast Zone especially in Ogbaru, Onitsha and Ogidi Business Districts; leading to issuance of monthly estimated bill of between N10,0000 and N15,000 to each consumer in the said 18 Business Districts of the Company. This amount excludes valued added tax or VAT. Consumers who pay half of this outrageous monthly bill instantly run the high risk of being violently disconnected.
“Criminal Syndicates In EEDC
“Criminal syndicates do exist in EEDC especially in Ogbaru, Onitsha, Ogidi, Nnewi, Ekwulobia and Awka Business Districts. They not only ensure that consumers especially the single phase residential customers are not appropriately metered through “prepaid meter system”, but also responsible for issuance of crazy or outrageous monthly billing and indiscriminate power line and transformer disconnection for sundry criminal penalties. Owing to a truism that prepaid metering is customer friendly, less stressful, cheaper and corruption unfriendly; these criminal syndicates have continuously flouted NERC’s directives and frustrated its efforts geared towards ensuring credible metering of consumers.
“The use of estimated and outrageous billing system and its accompanied disconnection method have become a goldmine for them; making them to smile to the bank every month with tens, if not hundreds of millions of naira being criminal proceeds from criminal power disconnection. The referenced criminal syndicates at EEDC especially in its six Business Districts in Anambra State; have further devised a sort of pre installation tempering of prepaid meters meant for single phase customers; whereby few prepaid meters installed are technically manipulated to run like those of “maximum demand” or “industrial customers”.
“In other words, it is designed in such a way that N5, 000 prepaid credit or card used with few electrical appliances runs the high risk of tapping out in less than two weeks. This latest criminal act is designed to scare away and discourage prospective prepaid meter applicants and perpetuate the old order of estimated billing and disconnection of power line and its associated sundry extortions.
“We had also in the course of our advocacy letters and written representations against the Ogbaru, Onitsha and Ogidi Business Districts and their Network Managers (formerly Business Managers) discovered another criminal syndicate with links inside the NERC headquarters in Abuja as well as at its Southeast offices and the Enugu Headquarters of EEDC.
“The criminal syndicate, oils by the trio of Ogbaru, Onitsha and Ogidi Network Managers and relevant others; specializes in removing letters filed against the named top EEDC officials from where they are officially or appropriately documented. The criminal syndicate also functions as “whistle blowers” or alarmists once the said letters arrived and filed at appropriate quarters, by alerting the said top officials to “take note” or “cover”; all for a monthly criminal token.
“For instance, our petition against the trio of Ogbaru, Onitsha and Ogidi Business Districts and their Network Managers; with Ogbaru Business District and its Network Manager as our case study was removed from the official file of NERC in Abuja. The letter was dated 10th November 2015. It was when we did not receive any signal from NERC that we sent a team with extra copy and discovered that our letter was removed from NERC official records. It took us time moving from department to another in search of the letter. This was after we got a proof of delivery from a courier agency, indicating its successful delivery to the intended recipient (NERC). We took time to re-submit same before we could be given response so required.
“Again, on 28th March 2017, we sent another petition against the Ogbaru Business District and its Manager, Engr. Obi Ughasoro to the Enugu Headquarters of EEDC. It was addressed to the then Managing Director/CEO of EEDC, Mr. Jayrahman (an Indian). The letter with a court affidavit was delivered personally by one of our lawyers, Barr Florence Akubuilo; with an extra copy duly stamped as “received”.
“We waited for months for Enugu EEDC response, all to no avail, forcing us to send another team to Enugu; only to find out that our letter was removed again from where it was officially filed and indented. Our team insisted on seeing the submitted original copy of ours, all to no avail. We were told that “someone must have removed it for someone” and that “it is a routine”.
“In all, the Ogbaru Business District under Engr. Obi Ughasoro (Network Manager) and his heads of Marketing (Mr. Emeka Udeh), Billing (Engr. God-Gift) and “33” Feeder Line Manager (Engr. Ifeanyi Eneh) as well as his Senior Manager for Distribution is a lawless Business District; with its major stock-in-trade being gross incompetence, extortion and criminal enrichment. The Onitsha, Ogidi and Ogbaru Business Districts are, therefore, the worst Business Districts in Southeast Nigeria.
“We therefore call on NERC and the Federal Ministry of Power to come to the rescue of the people of Southeast Nigeria and rescue them from perpetual bondage of EEDC. The Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission must, as a matter of fact, wake up from its slump and save the people of Southeast from nefarious conducts of EEDC. The National Headquarters of NERC should also carry a routine mass transfer of its personnel in the Southeast. This is given to clear indication that its said personnel now work hand in glove with EEDC; forcing consumers to groan endlessly and remain in perpetual bondage of EEDC.
“Removal Or Sacking Of Ogbaru Network Manager (Engr. Obi Ughasoro) & Co
The above highlighted despicable activities of the Ogbaru, Onitsha and Ogidi Network Managers and their subordinates; especially Engr. Obi Ughasoro of the Ogbaru Business District and his Marketing, Billing, “33” Feeder Line and Distribution Managers should be thoroughly investigated by the authorities of EEDC at its Enugu Headquarters; with appropriate sanctions meted; including removing or sacking them to deter others like them.
“Specifically, the Ogbaru Network Manager and his subordinates should be firmly and swiftly directed by their appropriate superiors at the Enugu EEDC Headquarters to restore power supply to all the disconnected power lines especially the Ogbaru “33” Feeder Line and discontinue all the nefarious conducts complained of; including indiscriminate mass disconnection and issuance of unmetered and outrageous monthly bills. EEDC must inexcusably provide un-tempered and NERC supervised and certified prepaid meters to all consumers in Southeast Zone especially single phase residential customers or residential and non industrial consumers.”
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