In this report, UKO ETIM writes on how an overzealous staff member of Port Harcourt Electricity Distribution Company arranged thugs to beat up a customer in Uyo recently.
There was a sigh of relief from electricity consumers last year when the federal government announced the free distribution of meters to electricity consumers. Around that period, the federal government reportedly announced the distribution of over 6.5 million free metering to its citizens, an effort to end the massive fraud regime of estimated billings from workers of electricity distribution companies.This move had received praises from Nigerians especially those whjo have been on the receiving end of estimated billings paying for what they do not consume. Although the thrills are still in the air, many are still under the subjugation of estimated billings with bitter face-off with electricity officials.
How it started
In Mbak Itam 3, an outskirt of Uyo metropolis in Akwa Ibom state, a heart-rending story about a resident who nearly lost his life for not paying the balance of an estimated bill issued to him by a staff of Port Harcourt Electricity Distribution Company (PHEDC) was reported to Blueprint.According to the report, the victim, Mr Sunday Gaza, a businessman with wife and three children would have met his untimely death when some thugs allegedly hired by a marketer of PHEDC suspected to be cultists descended on him for allegedly obstructing them from carrying out their duties.Narrating his ordeal, Gaza said on that fateful day, he returned home to take a quick rest after some transactions at his shop when suddenly power went off.
According to him, while stepping out to confirm it, he saw a PHEDC staff on top of his pole removing his wire. When asked to explain why, the man on the pole declined an answer.
Gaza said a marketer of PHEDC, Mr Leo Edet, who leads other staff members on disconnection had earlier issued an estimated bill of 8,000 naira to him. Out of the said amount, he paid 5,000 naira remaining 3,000 naira for which he was issued a receipt.
In his narration to Blueprint he said, “I was resting inside my house, then suddenly I discovered that my light went off, so moving out, I saw a PHEDC official on top of the pole and asked him what happened, but did not reply.
“I called Edet that I had paid but replied that I haven’t paid everything, so must pay all before reconnecting the light. I reminded him that he gave me an estimated bill of 8,000 naira out of which I paid 5,000 remaining only 3,000 naira for which he issued me a receipt. I requested him to connect the light back.
“On coming over, he told me that the office kept complaining that he was not doing his job properly. I told him that if they are complaining about his job, he should go and meet the people who have not paid at all. All the same, he refused to reconnect me.
“Then I later told him that they would not go with their ladder without fixing the light. Other people who saw what happened were even begging him to fix back the light but refused.”
Narrating further, Gaza said after some persons from the neighborhood came out to plead with the marketer to fix the light, he pretended to oblige and suddenly disappeared only to resurface later with a Hilux loaded with boys numbering over 10. He said they entered his premises and without any question started attacking him with electrical instruments.
The boys, he noted, were cultists paid by the marketer to beat him up. One of them, he said carried wire cutter while the other person used metal head of electric pole belt on him.
He said the thugs nearly killed him if not for the intervention of an army officer who did not know those boys, but was at the scene because he knew the marketer.
“My friend and another older woman had approached Edet and he promised to fix back the light but quickly he left us and we were thinking he was going to buy something.
“Suddenly, I saw a Hilux with load of thugs at the back, but since I saw an army and a police personnel, I thought they would peacefully ask me what happened, but as the Hilux was about to park, the thugs jumped out and started hitting me. I ran inside, but they came in and dragged me out.
“The army officer shot into the air and that was when they left me, but I had sustained injuries on my body.
Doctor confirms extent of injury
Dr Ogbona Chike of Juven clinic who attended to the victim said, “When I saw the wound on his body, I told them that it was not something a primary institution can handle because they closed the wound with dirts which was not supposed to.
“If you look at this wound now, I am feeling bad because it is already infected already. I have to reopen the wound all over because it is complicated and needs urgent attention.
When contacted, the area manager of PHEDC, Solomon Oyanacho, declined to speak but referred all inquiries to the corporate department of the company.