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The management of Eko Electricity Distribution Company Plc (EKEDC) has issued a warning to customers who tamper with pre-paid meters, advised customers to desist or prepare to face the consequences.

Reacting to energy theft which has become a new trend, Adeoye Fadeyibi, the Chief Executive Officer of the company, gave the warning at a customer’s consultative town hall meeting in Badagry, Lagos. Fadeyibi, who was represented by Joseph Esenwa, the Chief Finance Officer of the company, decried the high rate of energy theft and non-payment of bills by customers within the network.

He noted that the town hall became necessary to intimate customers within the Badagry network on the high rate of energy theft and equipment vandalism perpetuated by some customers in the communities.

The EKEDC helmsman pointed out that the measure became necessary against the backdrop of over a billion naira lost to various forms of energy theft and vandalism in the zone. According to him, any act of infraction will be met with a stiff penalty. “Enough is enough, Eko Disco will no longer tolerate this act of illegal tampering of our equipment and electrical installations, he bemoaned.”

He disclosed that “Tampering with Eko Disco meters, installations, distribution lines, equipment or assault on any field worker will attract a jail term. The management of EKEDC will no longer handle these actions with kid gloves; this is no empty threat. If you disregard this warning, you do so at your own risk.”

Fadeyibi stated further that it cost the company huge amount to replace vandalised equipment and damaged meters by customers in a bid to bypass the meters. A task force has been set up to inspect houses of consumers and impose a penalty of one million naira on anyone caught in energy theft while “the company will not hesitate to offer to pay anyone who reports energy theft by some unscrupulous elements 10 per cent of the money recovered from such thefts.”

He said that the company would henceforth commence effective prosecution of energy theft suspects and also publish their names in the national dailies. Thus, “We appeal to our customers to avoid engaging in bye-passing the meters because it’s criminal and punishable under Electricity Regulation Code of Conduct Act. l advised customers to exercise little patience with EKEDC as we promise to address all the issues regarding billings , metering and other challenges.”

On pre-paid meters, the CEO urged customers to exercise patience, adding that the newly introduced Metering Assets Providers by the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) would address metering challenges when it finally kicks start.

He called on members of the public and its customers to be vigilant and report any act of sabotage to the nearest law enforcement agencies or call EKEDC Customers Care Centre on 07080655555.

Reacting to the menace, the Oloto of Oto-Awori kingdom, Oba Josiah Ilemobade-Aina, condemned energy theft and vandalisation of power equipment by those he described as criminal elements within the communities.

Ilemobade-Aina, who is also the Kuyamiku 1 of Oto-Awori said that perpetrators of vandalism and energy theft are enemies of the society and all well-meaning people should join hands to stop them. The monarch said that since improvement in power supply would trigger socio-economic development and create jobs for more people, protection of power equipment should be the concern of all lovers of development.

However, he urged EKEDC to address all issued raised by customers on estimated billing, overbilling and lack of meters, while appealing to the company to engage in publicity on the need to desist from energy theft.

The traditional ruler also counselled EKEDC to look within and fish out bad eggs within its fold who according to the monarch were in the habit of colluding with people to engage in illegal connection and other vices against the company.

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