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NGO Raises Alarm Over New Scheme Employed By EEDC To Defraud Electricity Consumers In South East Nigeria

(AFRICAN EXAMINER) – A Civil Society Organization,  operating under the banner of Parent- Child Intervention Centre PCIC, has raised the alarm over a new Scheme  employed by the Enugu Electricity Distribution Company EEDC to allegedly defraud  unsuspecting Pre- paid meter customers in Enugu and South East Nigeria.

It said under the new anti- customer Scheme, the Company will forcefully switch such electricity consumers to a form of estimated billing system.

Executive Director of PCIC, Ambassador Peggy Chukwuemeka, raised the Alarm in a statement, made available to African Examiner in Enugu Monday.

She said “In December, 2020, the Enugu Electricity Distribution Company (EEDC), put out a Public Notice that, starting from January 1, 2021, all their customers who use prepaid meters which were introduced during the era of the Power Holding Company of Nigeria (PHCN) and approved by the Nigeria Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC), would no longer be able to recharge their meters.

“In effect, every affected customer would be forced to switch to “ESTIMATED BILLING” in order have access to power supply pending the time they get a new meter” she quoted  EEDC.

“Estimated billing is a severely unjust system which electricity distribution companies in Nigeria prefer, because it provides them the opportunity to defraud their customers at will  which EEDC has been doing freely without fear of punishment , in order to continually increase monthly revenue.

According to Chukwuemeka, “EEDC would have succeeded with their January, 2021, scheme if the general public, with help from the media, did not cry out in protest to force EEDC to jettison its cruel and unlawful scheme.

“Though the company backed down, but it never really gave up its plan to forcefully reduce the number of prepaid customers by switching existing prepaid customers to a billing system that will enable the company to implement estimated billing.

“EEDC has devised another scheme to effect its plan, and the residents of Bethel Estate, Enugu, are its guinea pigs.

“On April 22, 2021, prepaid customers of EEDC who are resident in Bethel Estate received “invitation” from EEDC, supposedly to defend a bogus accusation which EEDC made against them.

“But the real purpose of the invitation was to coerce each of them to sign an already prepared document acknowledging that he or she knowingly committed the alleged offence thereby giving EEDC the “right” to remove their prepaid meters and switch them to a billing system that will enable EEDC to bill them “Estimatedly

 ” Refusal to sign the document would result in the disconnection of power supply to one’s apartment.

She said “On May 20, 2021, power supply to the apartments of all the invited prepaid customers who declined to sign the document was disconnected.

“The reason which EEDC gave for the disconnection is, ‘Refusal to honor invitation’ It should have read, “Refusal to sign a document acknowledging unauthorized access,”which is the alleged offence.

“EEDC has, through that scheme, begun to achieve the goal it had set out to achieve in January, 2021, and has also devised a way to use false accusations to achieve the following:

“Legalize” their defrauding of prepaid customers. All the people who signed that incriminating document were penalized for committing the alleged offence, which they acknowledged that they committed.

 ” One of the things that make the accusation so dubious is that, some of the accused were offered very low fines, to convince them to sign the document – some of them were fined N3500 whereas the standard fine for meter bypass/tamper is N50,000. Also, other accused were allowed to negotiate their fines downward.

Secondly, “Coerce or force prepaid customers to sign incriminating documents acknowledging that they committed alleged offences in order to give EEDC the right to remove their prepaid meters and switch them to billing system that suits EEDC.

“Mrs. Chigbu, a widowed octogenarian, is a victim of EEDC’s oppressive and unlawful scheme” she stated.

“In September, 2020, she travelled to Abuja on holidays where she spent 9 months. During her 9-month stay at Abuja, her Bethel Estate residence was unoccupied, so the energy in her prepaid meter remained.

” But, when she returned to Enugu in June, 2021, she discovered that EEDC had disconnected the power supply to her apartment , it was disconnected on May 20, 2021, when EEDC disconnected the power supply to the apartments of all prepaid customers who did not sign the document, and she didn’t sign the document because she was in Abuja.

“When she went to EEDC’s head office to complain, she got the following response to justify the disconnection, that she did not inform EEDC of her intended travel plan before she travelled to Abuja, and  that  she had not been recharging her meter.

 “Somebody was tapping power from her meter’ and that her  meter  was tampered.

“Mrs. Chigbu was fined N51,500. She wanted to take the matter up in court because she felt terribly oppressed, but her son dissuaded her  from  doing that.

“He agreed to pay the fine because he didn’t want his aged mother to be put under any form of stress, and he persuaded her to sign the document, which she reluctantly did, because it was one of the conditions that must be fulfilled before power supply to her apartment would be reconnected.

“The most painful part of her story is that, after fulfilling every condition, EEDC declined to reconnect power supply directly to her meter; instead, she was placed on estimated  Billing. Presently, Mrs. Chigbu is no longer a prepaid customer.

“Amb. Peggy Chukwuemeka is another victim of EDDC’s fraudulent scheme. She moved into her Bethel Estate, Enugu,  apartment in August 2019.

“The prepaid meter attached to her apartment was functioning properly when she moved into the apartment, and she had been recharging her prepaid meter when needed. (Evidence attached.)

“Peggy’s husband was among the residents of Bethel Estate, Enugu, who were coerced into acknowledging that they committed an alleged offence.

” On  June 25, 2021, EEDC disconnected the power supply to her apartment. And, EEDC’s DISCONNECTION ORDER meant for her apartment bore another customer’s prepaid meter number and house address. (DISCONNECTION ORDER attached.)

“Also, she was fined #53000, which she must pay to EEDC before the power supply to her apartment will be reconnected.

“According to EEDC, the prepaid meter attached to her apartment was tampered in 2016, yet her husband was forced to acknowledge that the alleged, meter tamper was perpetrated with his consent.

“EEDC officials told her husband that he will not be held responsible for the alleged, meter tamper if he can produce the previous occupant of the apartment.

Ambassador Chukwuemeka,  backed her accusation with  relevant documents declared ” that “the fraudulent activities of EEDC in Enugu State has to stop.

Public Relations Officer PRO  of EEDC, Mr. Emeka Eze, could not be reached for reaction as his mobile phone was sounding not reachable as at the time of filling this report


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