*As Ogun State community spends N400,000 to repair transformer, Investigation reveals
By Kemi Kasumu
An Akure-based lawyer, Mr. Jimoh Saliu, has petitioned the Business Manager, Akure office of the Benin Electricity Distribution Company (BEDC) over what he described as extortion of his clients in Oke Aro area of the Ondo State capital of their hard earned money by officials of the power distribution company.
In a petition entitled, “Extortion of our clients’ money by BEDC officials under the guise of repairs,” Saliu said stated that it had become customary for BEDC officials in Oke Aro district Akure to extort the residents of that area under the guise of repair of electrical appliance owned by BEDC.
The lawyer, speaking to The DEFENDER, said, “The BEDC officials of that area are vultures who live only on illicit money collected from the people. In recent times, an electrical pole was removed as a result of heavy downpour.
“The officials of BEDC visited the place and asked the residents of the area to donate money for the repair.
“Upon refusal of the residents, the said officials have also refused to repair the fault and vowed to put the residents in total darkness.”
As at the time of this report, BEDC Akure Office business manager had not reacted to the lawyer’s complaint as effort made to reach out to him through phone proved abortive.
It would be recalled that the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC), which regulates by the law operations of the Discos, has persistently warned electricity distribution companies, Discos, against wrongful estimated billings and the acts of compelling customers to buy, install and repair transformers and poles.
The Acting Chief Executive Officer of NERC, Dr. Anthony Akah, had also on an independent television hosted in Abuja advised members of the public against conspiracy of silence whenever they were being shortchanged or extorted by officials of the Discos by reporting to NERC just as, on a separate occasion early this year, while signing a Memorandum of Understanding with the Director-General of the Consumer Protection Council, CPC, Mrs. Modupe Atoki, in Abuja, regretted that millions of Nigerians were not getting the real value of years of reform in the power sector.
Apart from the complaint by Lawyer Jimoh Saliu, The DEFENDER has received several complaints in just few days of its resumption from other parts of the country whereby many of the people that speak say they have been responsible for purchase and repairs of their electricity transformers and poles despite the incessant warnings by NERC that it was not their duty to do so.
We repaired our transformer for N400,000 – Ijoko community stakeholder
In an Ogun State community recently, two CDAs, Community Development Associations, Olorunda and Diamond in Ijoko town lamented how they coughed out over N400,000 to repair their damaged transformer when the IBDEC handling the area said they had nothing to do about such repairs.
One of the residents who spoke to The DEFENDER said, “We had to still go round to task ourselves to make up the over N400,000 to repair the transformer because the DISCO even made it clear to us that it was not their duty to repair transformer. If we don’t repair it, who will? It is however painful that while the government is making all efforts to ensure that life gets better for everybody, many of these DISCOs are not thinking along with the government. All they are interested in is to make money even when they know that there is no value addition to the people they collecting the money from. Now, everybody talks about improved power supply everywhere, here in our area, they are still treating us like we are not part of Nigerian people who should enjoy electricity supply like others do,” he regretted.