Following the continuous energy theft affecting the electricity industry in Nigeria, recent indications have shown that energy thieves may be risking 21 years jail term if found culpable.
The development was announced by the Head of Corporate Communications, Ikeja Electric, Mr. Felix Ofulue, who stressed that efforts to check such stealing of power were ongoing.
According to him, as part of efforts to curb the activities of energy thieves within its network, “Ikeja Electric (IE) will embark on a network wide operation of naming and shaming persons involved in stealing of energy.”
Ofulue explained that the name and shaming exercises would be done through traditional and new media platforms.
“This is in addition to the penalties and fines levied for revenue loss due to energy theft; arrests and prosecution of persons involved in meter tampering, bypass, shunting, illegal hookups and other forms of illegalities affecting the company. Energy theft is a serious menace affecting the electricity industry in Nigeria” he said.
Ofulue added that “from our experience, while some responsible customers rightly continue to demand improved power supply, a lot are unwilling to pay for such consumptions, irrespective of the amount billed.
“So, in order to avoid payment, they embark on all forms of schemes to utilise electricity when available without paying a commensurate value.
“It has therefore become compelling for us as a business (organisation) to curtail the menace by employing actions within the legal and regulatory framework available “Electricity theft is a major factor affecting the reduction of commercial and collection losses of Discos and this further affects their ability to provide improved services including the deployment of free pre-paid meters to all customers.”
He however appealed to customers to desist from such criminal acts, as anyone caught, no matter how highly placed, wouldn’t be spared. “The plea of ignorance of the fact of tampering/bypass by a customer will not be entertained. “If anyone is in doubt therefore, they are advised to immediately engage their licensed electrical contractors to inspect the connections on their premises.
“Customers also need to be aware of the maximum penalty provision of 21 years imprisonment under the Miscellaneous Offences Act.”
While stating that a task force will commence action on curbing energy theft soon, Ofulue said “a task force is set to commence immediate operations in most parts of the network including Oshodi, Shomolu, Ogudu, Magodo, Ikorodu, Ikeja and environs. Customers can visit the IE offices nearest for further clarifications.”