EKEDC put us in darkness for 16
months while extorting money from us’
By Job Osazuwa
Residents of 54, Rasheed Babatunde Street, Ajangbadi, Lagos have drawn a battle line with officials of Eko Electr icity Distribution Company (EKEDC). The fight is over disconnection of cables and alleged tampering with metre.
Both parties, it was gathered, have been having a running battle over the same issue since April 2015, but it recently took a new dimension when the angry residents accused the power distribution company of unleashing on residents unbearable financial exploitation.
According to them, it was a case of financial demand too many, hence, they took the matter to Okoko Police Station.
Daily Sun was informed that on April 28, 2015, some officials from EKEDC, Ajangbadi, went to the house and disconnected electricity in the three flats. Those using the pre-paid metres were not spared. The power distribution company said it suspected some unscrupulous activities. The residents were accused to have illegally connected a water-pumping machine directly to the electric cable, to avoid the consumption from being captured by the metre.
One of the occupants of the house, Mr. Daniel Chukwudi, told the reporter that the EKEDC’s officials, from the supervising office at 4, Dotun Isijola Street, Kosoko, Ajangbadi, in one of their inspection routines raised the alarm and a letter was later sent to the house from the office.
Hear him: “We have three flats in the house. Two flats use pre-paid, while the last one uses analogue metre. Only one pumping machine serves the house, and the pumping machine is connected to the analogue metre, which was made known to EKEDC.”
Suspecting that the electricians who did the connection might have committed some blunder, the occupants took the letter to the company’s office at Iba new site; where they were asked to pay N50, 000 as fine.
He recalled that all their efforts to explain to the company that they had never tampered with the metre fell on deaf ears. In order for peace to reign and for power to get restored to the house, they finally coughed out N20, 000 having been left in total darkness from that April till September. However, he said no receipt was issued to them to acknowledge the payment.
“Tired of the whole issue and as law-abiding citizens, we went to the Ajangbadi office, and pleaded with them to reconnect us. One Mr. Obinna, a staff of EKEDC told us to raise N 20, 000, that they would come and rectify the problem and that it would not occur again.
“When they were through with the reconnection, we the tenants, contributed the N20, 000 and I gave it to Obinna and two of his colleagues. They told us that the problem had been solved.”
Another resident, Pastor Chukwudi Okoh told Daily Sun that the company told him and his co-tenants to pay all the outstanding bills even when they were already using pre-paid metres. While they were still in darkness, the two tenants paid N 50, 000.They lamented that they kept receiving bills for analogue metre which accumulated to more than N50, 000.
According to the pastor, the residents were subjected to double charges for many months, and were told that their conversion from analogue to pre-paid metering was not professionally handled by whoever that did the installations.
Said he: “Not too long, another manager was posted to our area and he sent his workers to disconnect our electricity over the same illegal connection to pumping machine. They also gave an excuse that the last people that worked on the metre might have handled it wrongly.”
He stated that for another two months, the occupants were in darkness again until they were forced to pay another N14, 000 to the officials to rectify the problem.
“For the third time when reconnection was to be done, I asked them to bring their trusted staff to rectify whatever was not properly done. The three of us living in the house are so busy that we don’t have the leisure to be going to their office every time. I think they capitalised on this to keep cheating us. We paid N10, 000 for the last job that they did. They separated the wires and told us that everything was now okay. One of my co-tenants secretly made a video recording while they were doing the last work.”
Daniel, who is the only person using analogue in the house, also complained that for the six months that the power was disconnected, the officials were sending estimated bills to him.
“We went and complained for more than ten times, but the marketing manager then told us that whether there was power or not, they must send bills to consumers. The bill amounted to N 59, 000. We sent a petition to them on November 24, 2015 asking the bills to be cancelled, but all our efforts met a brick wall.
Daniel said in March 2016, another marketing manager, one Mr. Olaniyan was brought to Ajangbadi branch and for the third time, over the same issue, the power was disconnected. This naturally got the occupants infuriated, but Daniel said they were calmed by the new manager’s display of professionalism.
“We were very angry this time. We went to their office and called the boy that did the last job there. He told Mr. Olaniyan that they had worked on the same metre and corrected the fault. The manager humbly attended to us. He explained that he recently resumed duty. He later sent another official, one Mr. Akeem to crosscheck the job did by the last person.
“We were shocked when Mr. Akeem, with three other staff, told us that the problem was still there. We told him that we had suffered on this same issue in their hands many times. He asked us to open our flats and they checked them, opened the metre and touched some things there. At the end, they collected N10, 000 cash from us without issuing any receipt, and promised us that such issue would not occur again. The manager asked them to reconnect the power,” Daniel said.
He added that Mr. Olaniyan also resolved the issue over estimated bills on the analogue over the period they were disconnected. He was asked to be paying N3, 000 monthly but with no more fresh charges until he cleared the arrears.
“We were satisfied with his approach,” he stated.
The residents thought the trouble was over. But they were wrong. On August 1, 2016, they were for the fourth time thrown into darkness by the same EKEDC, Ajangbadi branch. They got another letter signed by one Mr. Kingsley, telling them that there was illegal connection in the building.
“This time, we became very furious and rushed down to their office to query Mr. Olaniyan, but we noticed that he had been removed and replaced with one Mrs. Eze Iloh. As we were about to enter the office, we saw the boys that did the last job. We complained to them, and they told us that they had already told Mrs. Eze that there was no by-pass in the compound but that she refused to listen to them. We took the letter to her, she collected it from us and told us to go, that she would come and rectify the problem that same day. We waited till night but we did not see her.
“The next day, my neighbour who is a pastor went to remind Mrs. Eze of her promise but she said he was disturbing her peace. When the pastor demanded the letter she collected from us, she refused to release it.
“The Divisional Police Officer (DPO) at Okoko invited her but she refused to show up. The next day, August 5, before 9.00am, two of her staff came to our compound and was begging us to forget the matter. One of them was among those that did the second reconnection. They asked us follow them to the office so that we could resolve the matter; we refused and told them that the case was already with the police.
“Thirty minutes after they left, about 15 other officials came to the house. They said they were sent from the head office. Fortunately, the people that did both the second and last reconnection came with them. They asked Mr. Akeem if he was the one that did the job; he said yes. They asked him if the metre had been tampered with after he did the job, he said no. At a point, they started arguing among one another. There is a video recording showing when they were begging us,” Daniel narrated.
As at the time of filling this report, the house is still in darkness. The pastor and his co-tenants said all they needed is justice and adequate compensation for their ordeal in the hands of EKEDC since 2015. They revealed that they had contacted their lawyers and were ready to drag the power distribution company to court.
When the Marketing Manager, Mrs. Eze Iloh was contacted on telephone, she told the reporter that she had no knowledge of the issue.
Having listened to the caller, she simply said: “I don’t know what you are talking about.” She then cut the line.
In a chat with Daily Sun, the DPO of Okoko Police Station, Mr. Aliyu Lukman said the woman at EKDC office, who collected the letter from the consumers, might have realised the implication of the letter, forcing her to quickly seize it.
“The residents reported the matter here at the station. It is unfortunate that they didn’t make photocopies of the letter before the pastor took it to EKDC office to protest against it. I invited the woman who seized the letter but l heard she contacted some staff from their head office to beg the angry residents.
“They told me that the company had disconnected and reconnected the power three times using their own staff over illegal connection. The residents couldn’t take it any longer and they took up the issue,” he said.
Rotary brings developmental projects to Agege
By Tessy Igomu
They leisurely sauntered into the premises of Olusanya Primary School, Agege, Lagos – gaily-dressed men and women in high spirits. Their happiness was palpable. Some of them swayed with dexterity to music blaring from two giant loudspeakers.
The reason for their joy was not far-fetched. The Rotary Club of Agege was commissioning and handing over five developmental projects to the four communities – Olusanya, Papa Uku, Ifesowapo and Agbajowo within Fanimokun in Agege Local Government Area. The projects include a five KVA generator, a skills acquisition centre, bags of mosquito-treated nets to kick-start the fight against malaria, disbursement of micro-credit loans and unveiling of the banner to officially inaugurate the Rotary Club of Olusanya.
Residents of the community were still basking in euphoria following the commissioning of a borehole sunk in the area after surviving decades of acute water scarcity. And for them, the new projects would definitely mark a positive turning point in the affairs of the area.
Speaking on the importance of the projects commissioned to mark the new District Governor’s maiden visit to the club, the president of Rotary Club of Agege, Gbenga Sunmonu, noted that the gesture was in line with the tradition of the club. He explained that the governor’s visit was a yearly tradition meant to shed light on how club members have impacted positively on lives.
He noted that the 32-year-old club, the foremost in the district, had not only commissioned a number of life-transforming projects, but had produced a number of district governors.
Sunmonu explained that distribution of mosquito-treated nets and the skills acquisition centre, when completed, would go a long way to improve the lives of the community members.
“Rotary cares about the welfare of the people. The organisation has humanity in mind and helps based on needs at the time. Over the years, we have engaged in adult literacy training, vocational and skills acquisition as well as micro-credit scheme to further empower residents. We have also awarded scholarships to indigent students, sank boreholes and equipped libraries to encourage education and literacy. Our presence is also being felt in the health sector of Agege community.
“I thank the community for receiving us in such a warm way. After commissioning the borehole, we have returned to fulfil our promise of ensuring that it is powered to satisfy the need of residents. The mosquito treated nets are meant to help reduce mortality rate from malaria-induced deaths. The skills acquisition centre and micro-finance initiative is also meant to empower residents to become self reliant by being self employed. These are all sustainable projects that would impact on lives,” the president said.
While commending the club for its initiatives, the District Governor, Patrick Ijehon Ikheloa, described Rotary as a peaceful club with the most organised system of transition. He explained that it was an organisation of leaders united in the ideal of service.
He noted that members of the organisation were not millionaires but selfless people dedicated to putting smiles on faces of the less privileged. He also assured that all the projects given to the community would go a long way to transform the lives of residents.
He said: “I appreciate the massive turnout. I only seek your support and that of other members of the society to achieve the ideal of the organisation. I also thank Bishop Julius Babatunde Olusanya for donating the parcel of land for the skills acquisition centre. I look forward to commissioning the project in September. I am very impressed by these donations. Rotary Club of Agege had in their little, special way, made effort to put smiles on the faces of members of this community.”
Aro of Agege, Chief Isiaka Dada, who represented the Olu of Agege, Oba Kamila Oyedeji (Isiba Ogisanyin 1), thanked the Rotarians for the gesture. He said he looked forward to joining the club. He also conveyed the monarch’s goodwill messages that urged the club members not to relent in their good deeds.
Shortly after commissioning of the projects, the Rotary Club of Olusanya was inaugurated, even as key officials were formally presented to members of the community.