PHEDC Seeks Police Assistance to Arrest Meter Bypass Offenders
By Adedapo Adesanya
The Port Harcourt Electricity Distribution (PHEDC) has sought the assistance of the Rivers State Police Command for the prosecution of meter bypass offenders in the state.
The energy distribution firm said it took this step because of the rising cases of energy theft in Port Harcourt as well as the regular financial sabotage and the willful destruction of critical power assets.
According to the Head of Corporate Communications at PHED, Mr John Anonyai, the company was lucky to get hold of one of its customers in the act.
He described the suspect as a high profile politician in Rivers State, who was caught in a high-level meter bypass through a deliberate diversion of electricity from the main source to his property illegally, with the intention of avoiding payment of bill.
Mr Anonyai warned that PHED is prepared to apprehend anyone caught in meter bypass irrespective of the individual’s status in society.
“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 PHED 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,” he said.
Mr Anonyai recalled that the company’s Managing Director, Mr Henry Ajagbawa, had appealed to customers through print and electronic media to dissociate themselves from meter bypass as such an atrocious act is a punishable offence 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 a 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 the society noting that this will serve as a deterrent to others,” he quoted the company’s CEO as saying.