The Lafia residents electricity consumers forum has condemned the disconnection of electricity at the NUJ House along Makurdi road Lafia and the residence of NUJ former state council chairman Malam Rayyanu Bala who is spearheading movement against AEDC’s impunity in Lafia. Speaking at a well attended press conference held at NUJ house in Lafia, monday, Malam Rayyanu Bala called for immediate reconnection of the electricity at the former chairman’s house and the NUJ house. The text of the press conference which was tittled: why we can not be intimidated read in part:
Gentlemen of the press, you will all recall that on April 18, 2023, we addressed you in this very hall over the exploitative and unbecoming attitude of AEDC in Lafia, where we explained in detail how AEDC is exploiting consumers through migration to BAND A without commensurate supply of electricity as required for consumers on BAND A.
At that press conference, we demanded: 1. the reversal of consumers from Band A to Band D since the supply of electricity was not only epileptic but was not in total consonance with the laid-down rules guiding the supply of electricity to consumers on Band A; 2. Refund of monies or bills charged to consumers as a result of their migration to Band A; 3. Repairs of the Shendam Road sub-station
But instead of addressing the issues we raised, AEDC Lafia resulted in intimidation, as a day after the press conference, AEDC disconnected my residence and the NUJ secretariat under the flimsy excuse that we have debts in our accounts.
What was our offense? My offense here is for agreeing to be moved by patriotism to lead the struggle against AEDC’s exploitation, indecorous attitude, impunity, and total disregard for the general laid-down rules guiding the relationship between AEDC and electricity consumers in Lafia. And the offense of NUJ is for providing a forum in which we aired our grievances against them, or else why the disconnection now? What stopped them from disconnecting me much earlier than now? And what stopped them from disconnecting NUJ long before our press conference?
Our demands from AEDC are not misplaced; in fact, they are backed by law and concrete evidence. But instead of seeing it from that perspective, some AEDC staff view our actions as personal, hence the disconnection of my residence and the NUJ secretariat.
For the purpose of setting the record straight, 99 percent of AEDC consumers in Lafia have one form of debt or another in their accounts, so why single out my residence and the NUJ house for disconnection?
However, I make bold to say that the disconnection of my residence and the NUJ house was illegal, and this is because in “Connection and Disconnection Procedures, Section 5 (1)(a) of the Electric Power Sector Reforms Act 2005 indicates that it is illegal for DISCOs to disconnect consumers before 10 working days after bill distribution, that is minus Saturdays and Sundays. If 10 days have elapsed and the consumer has not paid, the law says such a consumer is entitled to a disconnection notice.”
For the purpose of emphasis here, there is a difference between a disconnection notice and a disconnection order. The disconnection notice is to inform consumers that they owe DISCO a particular amount. And if, after three (3) months, consumers have not paid, then they can be served with a disconnection order.
Section 5 (1) (d) of the same Act says it is illegal to disconnect consumers after a disconnection notice has been served and before the expiration of three (3) months of the disconnection notice.
In view of the above Act, I am therefore calling for the immediate reconnection of my premises and the NUJ house, since due process has not been followed.
For our demands, we still stand by them; we cannot be intimidated into abandoning this struggle until AEDC sees the reasons and bows to these demands.
We want to state here that our demand for refund of monies and bills collected from consumers in Lafia and environs for being on Band A and not getting a commensurate supply of electricity is sacrosanct, and we will never compromise it since Section 120, 104, 129 (1) (a) and (b) (iii) of the Federal Competition and Consumer Protection Act 2018 mandates us to ask for the refund for the services that have not been provided.