Posted by Charles Iwuoha, Enugu | 8 February 2019 | 1,317 times
The Chief Judge of the Federal High Court, Justice Abdu Kafarati, has tasked judicial and law enforcement officers on the need to check rampant energy theft and vandalism in the electricity sector.
Kafarati made the call in Enugu on Thursday in an address at a one-day Enugu Electricity Distribution Company (EEDC) Judges Seminar.
In the seminar themed, “Prosecution of Energy Theft, Allied Offences and Industry Related Litigation”, the Chief Judge stressed that vandalisation, theft and sometimes unauthorised access to electricity facilities were the common threats in the sector.
He noted that these could be a source of economic distress to the country that had been trying so hard to improve its power delivery.
According to him, importantly, if the judiciary is not expediently proactive, criminals will continue to exploit the vulnerable aspect of the system and other critical infrastructure.
He said: “Indeed it is important that electricity Distribution Companies (DISCOS) partner with the Bench and other stakeholders in order to stamp out acts that are capable of frustrating the intendment of the Federal Government in privatising the power sector.
“Therefore, it is our collective responsibility to help protect investments in electricity and other key economic infrastructure in Nigeria.
“As an arm of government, the judiciary and law enforcement officers are glad to join hands with stakeholders like the Enugu DISCO and other DISCOS to ensure that this essential commodity is available to all and that investment in the sector is well protected within the ambit of the law.
“To some extent, power sector jurisprudence is a stranger to the Nigerian case law.
“This gap underscores the imperatives of judicial and law enforcement officers to be very conversant with the regime as we will always be confronted with their cases.
“The complexity and interplay of several components in the realisation of the novel mandates of the DISCOS obviously attract disputes and disagreements.
“Therefore, with better information, the disputes and disagreements will be resolved expediently through your courts and institutions.”
Earlier, Chairman of EEDC, Sir Emeka Offor, noted that the seminar was apt due to the high and alarming rate of energy theft and vandalism in the country.
Offor, who was represented by Mr Ikechukwu Okpala, noted that “within the past six months over 100 transformers had been vandalised within the company’s area of coverage”.
“We solicit the support of judicial officers in fast adjudication of these cases in order for the judgment to act as a big deterrent to criminals pull down the sector.
“There is also a need for a set of new laws to check the present negative trend in the electricity sector,” he said.
In a goodwill message, the Managing Director of EEDC, Mr Okechukwu Nwosu, said that the judiciary would play a very pivotal role in addressing energy theft in the country.
“The pervasive nature of energy theft in EEDC areas of coverage is quite alarming and poses a threat to the company’s operation.
“EEDC has in the past two years embarked on a massive metering programme. However, it is disheartening to note that a very high percentage of the meters are bypassed or have their seals tampered with,” Nwosu said.
The seminar was attended by judges from Federal and State High Courts; magistrates, directors of public prosecutions as well as police and NSCDC officers-in-charge of legal departments from the South-East.
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