Abuja, [email protected]
This is an appeal to the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission to caution officials of the Ikeja Electricity Company on its billing system.
The company’s Fagba Undertaking office has over the past couple of months been billing customers not by kilowatts consumed but by whims and caprices without considering the prevailing economic condition in the country.
The July 2017 billing was not only “crazy”, but also outrageous. The building I reside in is made up of four three-bedroom flats. Our bills totalled over N65,000 for just one month. That is without the mandatory load- shedding every three days for 24 hours and the non-explanatory blackouts in between.
Officials of Fagba Undertaking office for the last two weeks ending August, laid siege to its customers at General bus stop area harassing, intimidating and insisting that they should pay the despicable bills.
Things came to a head when in a wanton display of redundancy of its human capital, the Undertaking office loaded five trucks with six men each and invaded a street of less the 40 houses on a quest to coerce consumers to pay the bills. It would have ended in fisticuffs and possible bloodbath but for Providence.
NERC should ensure that the IKEDC deploy prepaid meters to the consumers as a lasting solution to incessant complaints of “crazy billings”.
Abraham Afolabi Street,
General Bus Stop, Ijaye Ojokoro, Lagos state
Overhauling the prison system
I have to say out rightly that any reforms whether to the prison system or the criminal justice system would be fruitless unless viewed and implemented holistically with all stakeholders actively involved. For example, a mere bill passed in the Senate would be ineffectual if there are no systematic changes in the Police Force. I believe an institutional priority is the progressive review of all criminal legislations in line with constitutional and international (human rights) standards.
The Prison Act of 1972 is outdated and has no provision for effective administrations of prisons and protection of human rights. We ought to overhaul the Act or create a new one entirely. It is also imperative that we allocate a bigger fraction of the annual budget for the maintenance of the court systems as well as the operating costs for prisons. Funding is the root of many issues and indeed Police agencies as well as the courts and prisons could benefit from more funding from the government. For example, a Prison Equipment Fund could be created in order to ensure that not only basic amenities and health care kits are available but adequate and serviceable vehicles are made available in good condition ready to transport inmates to courts. It is on record that quite a number of inmates miss court appearance simply because there are no vehicles to take them to court on the due date! Justice delayed is justice denied! This lacuna is for no fault of the inmates. Yet no one appear to care. How sad?
The crucial issue of transforming the prison system would take a cohesive effort, one that aims to alleviate some of our fundamental societal problems in Nigeria. Today, there are cases of inmates incarcerated for up to 15 years awaiting trial and there is hardly a national outcry. Ironically these issues affect not only the prisoners but the general public. Prisons should be half-way correctional and half-way rehabilitation homes, where inmates stand a chance at being reformed and reintegrated into society as better persons. Our prisons have become punitive and indeed human rights abuse centres. Is society better off when prisoners come out more dangerous menacing to the general public? Criminal Justice reforms need to come from the top, and unfortunately I have doubts the political elite will want to embark on such change, after all they are direct benefactors of the systems weaknesses.
Finally and indeed more importantly there is a need to massively expand the prisons. We have grown as a nation, our population has expanded over the years from less than 100 million to now approaching 190 million. Crimes have also expanded in scope, form and texture. Crimes such as internet crime, credit card theft, electoral crimes, and many more were unheard of years back. Now we have several offenders in this category. The idea is even if the justice system is to be enhanced and transports provided to take inmates to courts as and when the need arise, the size and capacity of the prisons is at stretch now. Government may want to consider requesting corporation and or companies wishing to give to the society to come to the aid of the prisons just as they help the Nigerian police.
AEDC exploiting us, residents lament
Residents of satellite towns of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) have accused the electricity service provider for the territory, the Abuja Electricity Distribution Company (AEDC) of deliberately exploiting them by excluding them from the new electricity billing platform being enjoyed by consumers in the metropolis.
One of such consumers is Yahaya Enejo who lives in a two-bedroom flat apartment in Gwagwa, about 40-minute drive from the heart of the metropolis.
Enejo moved with his five-member family to the apartment in the Agwa-Keria area of Gwagwa in December, last year. He told Premium Times that footing his electricity bills has become a major challenge since relocating to the house.
Most of the houses in Agwa-keria do not have prepaid meters so electricity consumption is charged by estimated billing.
The system leaves consumers at the mercy of AEDC officials who, Enejo said, determine how much they pay every month by inscrutable whim.
He told Premium Times that he paid AEDC N7, 500 to connect his apartment in December.
His bill was fluctuating between N4000 and N7, 000 until June when he complained to the officials and was asked to pay N3500.
In July, he paid N3, 000.
“Power supply here is terrible. So, some months when they bring the bill you wonder what you are paying for because you can count the number of times they supplied light to us. Even when there is light, you don’t enjoy it because the current is always low.
“I am sick and tired of this nonsense. I spend between N6, 000-N7, 000 monthly just to fuel my generator, yet AEDC will bill you for what you did not consume.”
Enejo said he no longer cares if he was disconnected. “I won’t pay any bill again until this matter is resolved,” he said. The resolution he seeks is that he be taken off the old billing system and placed on prepaid metering.
The AEDC has the franchise for the distribution and sale of electricity across the133, 000 km two radiuses extending from the FCT to Niger, Kogi and Nasarawa states.
In other words, ordinary citizens like Enejo have little chance of stopping their exploitation by the electricity companies like AEDC.
Like Enejo, Lola Owoede lives in another satellite town in the Nigerian capital.
She resides in a one-bedroom flat on Arab Road in Kubwa, one of the largest satellite towns in Abuja. All the nine flats in her apartment are installed with prepaid meters.
But to Miss Owoede’s chagrin, the prepaid meters in her flat and two others in the apartment are not functioning. So she has been on estimated billing by the AEDC.
“Since I moved to this apartment three years ago my bill has been rising every month even though my consumption has been constant. I started with paying N4, 000, but as I speak to you now, my bill has gone up to N15, 000,” she said.