Paul Osuyi, Asaba
A civil society group, Civil Rights Council (CRC), has accused the Nigeria Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) of allegedly conniving with Distribution Companies (DISCOs) to extort electricity consumers through outrageous estimated billings.
The group said NERC has failed in its mandate by allowing DISCOs to issue high and unregulated estimated bills to Nigerians.
CRC Chairman Agbubi Ejovwoke said the development has resulted in the deliberate refusal to provide prepaid meters to consumers.
Ejovwoke added that despite a series of complaints launched to the commission by electricity consumers, it has failed to take a firm stand on the issue.
He urged the Federal Government to scrap NERC over its continuous failure to execute its core mandate.
‘We want the Federal Government to scrap NERC because the commission as it is today has lost focus and is just there receiving a huge budgetary allocation for doing nothing.
‘Early this year, I think February, after series of complaints and protest, carried out against the injustice done to consumers by the DISCOs, especially BEDC, NERC came up to say they have placed a limit on what DISCOs are to charge unmetered customers.
‘They put the maximum that any DISCO can invoice a residential customer at 78kWhr x N24/ kWhr = N1,872 per month yet you see these DISCOs issuing bills as high as N28,000 for a single customer.
‘The annoying thing is that when you launch a complaint to NERC through their website, they only acknowledge through their automatic acknowledgement programme but never treat them.
‘These DISCOs are just having a free day feeding on the sweat of innocent Nigerians by making them pay for what they never consumed and the body that is supposed to checkmate their activities is just there collecting budgetary allocation year in year out without doing anything.
‘They told us that by 2017 all customers would have been metered, they shifted it to 2018, then the first quarter of 2019, now they are saying it is 2023. Believe me, with this NERC in place, we will not get prepaid meters by 2050.
‘The most painful of all is our National Assembly that has been cajoled into this quagmire of fraud. They introduced a bill to stop the fraud and we became hopeful but never knew it was their own way of trying to get their share of the loot. The bill has suddenly disappeared.
‘It is high time our leaders started doing what is right for the country to move forward. We don’t have to go to the streets to stage a peaceful protest before they do the right thing. Even now they have developed a dead conscience, they don’t respond to peaceful protest anymore,’ he said.