From Tony John, Port Harcourt
The Port Harcourt Electricity Distribution Company (PHEDC) has expressed worry over the spate of meter bypass violations in its areas of operation (AOR), saying it has led to a monthly loss of over N2.5 billion.
The company said it has referred five persons involved in meter bypass violations in Port Harcourt to the Rivers State Police Command.
PHEDC Head of Corporate Communications John Anonyai made the disclosure in Port Harcourt.
He said the petition was occasioned by the regular financial sabotage and breach of regulations guiding the willful destruction of critical power assets punishable by extant laws.
Anonyai said one of the suspects, a high profile politician in Rivers State, was caught in a high-level meter bypass through the deliberate diversion of electricity from the main source to his property illegally, with the intention of avoiding payment of bills.
Anonyai warned that the PHEDC was prepared to apprehend anyone caught in a meter bypass violation regardless of the status of the individual.
‘From the investigation by the Revenue Protection Department, it was gathered that the said consumer has been involved in this act of meter bypass for a long time and has constantly denied PHEDC officials access to his premises for a routine check until he ran out of luck.
‘It is important to note that this politician has set precedence because his action could encourage other members of the public to engage in meter bypass as observed from the alarming trend of meter bypass recorded in recent months.
‘Consequently, due to this trend, PHED loses over N2.5 billion to meter bypass monthly which is impacting negatively on our operations to distribute electricity to other responsible customers,’ Anonyai said.
Anonyai recalled that the company’s Managing Director, Henry Ajagbawa, had appealed to customers through the media to dissociate themselves from meter bypass, warning that such acts are punishable offences under the law.
‘Dr Ajagbawa cited the ESPRA Act (2005), Miscellaneous Offences Act and the Nigerian Criminal Code as enshrined in the constitution to prosecute crimes of meter bypass and other practices inimical to the operations of service providers.
‘PHED is prepared to apprehend anyone caught in meter bypass irrespective of the individual’s status in society. This will serve as a deterrent to others,’ he noted.