Arbitrary charges: CPC threatens to sanction power firms

Ifeanyi Onuba, Abuja

The Consumer Protection Council has warned the Abuja Electricity Distribution Company and other power firms in the country to stop imposing arbitrary charges on their customers or face severe sanctions and prosecution.

The council also threatened to sanction power firms that failed to meet their mandate of ensuring adequate supply of power to customers.

It said that reported cases of unlawful disconnection of customer’s electricity without due process would be treated as an act of sabotage.

The Director-General, CPC, Babatunde Irukera, said these during a town hall meeting held in Abuja to address some of the impediments to effective supply of power to consumers.

The event was attended by representatives of the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission, Nigeria Electricity Management Services Agency, Abuja Electricity Distribution Company and electricity consumers in Bwari.

The CPC boss said the council would no longer watch, while Nigerians were being extorted by power firms through estimated billing and poor electricity supply.

He stated that arbitrary billing and group disconnection of electricity consumers without consideration for those paying their bills constituted gross abuse of consumer rights.

While noting some of the challenges facing the sector, the CPC boss, however, stated that these should not be an excuse why consumers should be poorly treated.

He said, “We Nigerians have lived for a long time with poor supply of electricity; we are dissatisfied with this; it is more on what happens in the distribution components. People complain more about illegal bills, they complain more when they are disconnected if their neighbours fail to pay their bills.”

“So, if you discourage people who pay bills because of some who refused to pay, you are giving them a very bad service. This must stop.”

The CPC boss also cautioned consumers to henceforth avoid electricity theft, vandalism and illegal connections.

He said government was monitoring all electricity operations across the country, stating that any consumer caught violating the law would be severely sanctioned.

In his remarks, a NERC commissioner, Dr. Moses Ariga, assured the forum that from April 3, 2018, the electricity distribution companies would cease to distribute electricity meters but focus more on collection of funds from customers.

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