Fear grips DISCOs’ officials over incessant attacks
Officials of the Electricity Distribution Companies (DISCOs) have become victims of persistent attacks in the hands of aggrieved electricity consumers, who vent their anger on them at any slightest opportunity.
Of recent time, especially since the issue of epileptic power supply and blackout worsened, incidences of face-off with DISCO officials, leading to injuries were reported across the country.
In most cases, according to investigations, scuffle between residents and officials occur, whenever there are attempts to disconnect power service to houses for unpaid electricity bills.
Another area of discord is inability of DISCOs to issue pre-paid meters, to issue the meters on time.For instance, electricity consumers, under the Umbrella of Joint Action Committee, Electricity Distribution Company Customers Consultative Forum, the umbrella body of electricity consumers under Ikeja Distribution Company (IKEDC) and Community Development Associations (CDAs), issued an ultimatum to IKEDC, to distribute the meters, threatening that failure to meet the deadline, they shouldn’t dare to issue any electricity bill to consumers in the areas.
At a stakeholders meeting held late last year at the Airport Hotel, Ikeja, one of the demands of electricity consumers was immediate stoppage of billing to unmetered customers; failure of which it will resort to returning of all estimated billings from IKEDC.
On June 18, 2016, youths in different parts of Bayelsa State, used machetes and other objects to attack six workers of the Port Harcourt Electricity Distribution Company (PHED) and three police officers attached to the company. The electricity firm’s staffs were assaulted, while attempting to recover debts and disconnect power service to debtors.
Late August, three officials of the Ibadan Electricity Distribution Company (IBEDC) were attacked by some machete-wielding youths in Esa Oke, Osun State, over power outage in the town.
Early in January, residents of Etsako West Local Government Area of Edo State attacked the Benin Electricity Distribution Company (BEDC), Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC) officials, and the Police. It was gathered that some youths from the community, disconnected for owing BEDC Auchi Business District N3, 361,717,95, stormed the Business District and Urban Service Unit, demanding immediate restoration of supply, which led to the scuffle.
In Ekoro/Agbele area of Abule-Egba, an official of the IKEDC, who came to distribute bills, was allegedly attacked, which led the distribution company to instigate power outage in the area for close to two months. The residents were demanding for pre-paid meters, which forced them to take laws into their hands.
Several incidents like this across the country have forced staff of electricity distribution companies to restrict movement to areas tagged as dangerous.
A community leader in Ekoro, Abule-Egba, Lagos, Chief Idowu James, who condemned the development, said those who perpetrate the act dared not do it when the companies were under government ownership. He urged all electricity consumers to allow the officials do their jobs, adding that they should forward their grievances to appropriate authorities.
The Public Relations Officer of IKEDC, Felix Ofulue, who denounced the attacks, told The Guardian that they are working in connivance with traditional rulers, CDAs and landlords to ensure that the restive youths are put under control. “Our officials are no longer safe. Whenever there is any fault, we cannot do the repair because our men may be attacked anytime.”