PHEDC To Take Legal Action Against Electricity Thieves

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Dr Henry Ajagbawa, the Managing Director of Port Harcourt Electricity Distribution Company (PHEDC), has warned that any person, persons, group or corporate body found to be engaged in meter bypass on its network will be arrested and prosecuted.

Dr Ajagbawa frowned on the constant loss of about 30 percent of the company’s anticipated revenue to meter bypass on monthly basis, a situation he described as unacceptable.

Ajagbawa gave the warning yesterday, following the alarming trend of meter bypass which has become rampant.

The PHEDC boss said meter bypass was a criminal offence punishable under the law, adding that customers involved in such illicit act had completely misinterpreted the company’s silence as an encouragement to make a going concern moribund.

“From inception in 2013, the company has been battling with many odds militating against its sustainability ranging from energy theft, illegal reconnection, intimidation & harassment, non-payment of electricity bills, staff assault and to meter bypass with the latter out of control.

“Henceforth, we will no longer accept mere disconnection for meter bypass as anyone apprehended would be immediately reported to the police with sufficient evidence for prosecution including naming and shaming through various media channels”, Ajagbawa stated.

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He also revealed that PHED will collaborate with security agencies and a crack team of anti-energy theft squad to work on a daily basis with the Revenue Protection Department, RPD, of the company to achieve its goal of bringing all perpetrators to book.

Dr Ajagbawa warned customers to mote Section 94 (3) of the Electric Power Sector Reform Act (EPSRA) which states that “Notwithstanding anything contained in any other law, any person who wilfully destroys, injures or removes equipment or apparatus of a licensee commits an offence and is liable on conviction to imprisonment for a period of not less than five (5) years and not more than seven (7) years”.

He urged customers with faulty meters not to tamper with the asset but to report to the nearest PHED office or call the company’s 24/7 Call Centre on 070022557433 to lodge their complaint.

“Finally, it is no longer business as usual as we are prepared to trigger the extant laws to curb this ugly menace of meter bypass”, Dr Ajagbawa concluded.

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