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How Lagos residents scamper for safety after Ikeja Electric lay siege on property

By Olalekan Idris,

Residents of a twelve units of duplex apartments inside Lagos State Government Residential Area (GRA) have told tales of how their mini estate was barricaded and put under siege by Ikeja Electric officials who stormed their premises with over 20 armed mobile policemen in an attempt to disconnect the property from public power supply. 

 They claimed that the conduct of the Ikeja Electric personnel and that of the heavily armed policemen put occupants of the apartments into panic, particularly children who were playing within the house premises when the incident occurred. 

 It was gathered that even after the power distribution company had disconnected the property from power supply, residents’ movements were restricted for hours and that women were forced to remove their children from presence of guns of policemen who barred people from accessing entrance to the premises of the duplexes.

 The Guild learnt that an unresolved dispute between occupants of the property and Ikeja Power Distribution Company over outrageous billing, denial of access to power supply and refusal of the company to install pre-paid meters within the mini estate, led to residents’ recent resistance against the power distributor company’s move to remove the duplexes from power. 

Meanwhile, Ikeja Electric personnel had during the week met resistance from occupants of the units of duplexes who disrupted the officials from disconnecting the property from power supply, and Area F Command had to intervene after the distribution company lodged complaints against residents.

On the side of the residents, they expressed that the power distribution company has not been transparent in its meter reading and had continue denying residents access to pre-paid meter so as to justify its perfected system of milking innocent residents.

 They raised concerns against the power distributor for using police to intimidate ordinary Nigerians, particularly innocent children who were to enjoy uninterrupted power supply.

 To them, government and appropriate regulatory bodies need to begin checking activities of power distribution companies, particularly Ikeja Electric against intimidating and harassing people that they were meant to serve.

 Passers-by and other property owners on the street who witnessed the drama, expressed disappointment over the conducts of the power distribution company and that of the mobile police officers who invaded the street unannounced and attacked people residing at the property.

 An eye-witness, Ekwuola Nathaniel, who spoke to The Guild over the incident, said that the whole street of Ayoola Coker were scampering for safety after the heavily armed policemen stormed the area in their numbers and only to discover that the whole show of force was for just disconnection of power supply of a property whose residents had challenged the company of irregularities and abnormalities in billing and meter reading.

 He hinted that people that were living on the street and passerby would still remain in shock even after they discovered that the whole policemen presence was only for disconnection of just a property from power supply.

 “All the numbers of police presence on Ayoola Coker Street this afternoon was just to remove a property from Ikeja Electric power supply. That action was just an unnecessary show of power against innocent residents of that property.

 “If a company that is mandated to supply every homes power can behave in such manners then it means the company is irresponsible.

“Only mothers and children were the only occupants of the property at home when the police and Ikeja Electric stormed the place and they must have targeted when their husbands will not be around to initiate their actions. 

 A woman, Aisha Owolabi, who is a resident of one of the unit duplexes, told The Guild that the power distribution company and its hired mobile policeman sent occupants of the apartments into panic after they invaded the property.

 She disclosed that no fewer than 50 men consisting of armed mobile policemen and personnel from Ikeja Electric invaded Ayoola Coker Street only to disconnect her apartment and that of other units of duplexes she shares the same compound with. 

 She alleged that the policemen presence and guns put children who were innocently playing within the premises into shock and disrupted them from enjoying their life.

 Owolabi said: “Both Ikeja Electric officials and the policemen did not show any sign of remorse over their conduct and the display was an indication that the action was deliberately exhibited to intimidate and harass us.

“I had to remove my children from the compound when I discovered that they were becoming terrified because of the ways over 20 armed mobile policemen stormed the property”. 

 “These people conduct calls for questioning and regulatory bodies must investigate the actions as it means that Nigerians lives were less important, she added”.

Another resident, Abiola Okoye, narrated that she and other residents were denied access into the entrance of the property by policemen who barricaded the place and threatened to shoot anybody that goes against their order. 

The woman said that she was away when she received information about police presence in the compound and had to rush back home because she left her children in the country. 

‘What the Ikeja Electric did has left my innocent kids and that of my neighbour’s ones shaking since yesterday after the incident happened and there is need for government to investigate this matter. 

‘How can a power distribution company mandated to provide services to Nigerians hire police to intimate same people that pay for the job they do.

Our bone of contention with the Ikeja Electric is that we felt cheated with meter reading from post paid meter installed in our house and we are demanding that the company should be transparent enough by installing prepaid meters across the twelve unit duplex in the compound.

Seven of the duplexes have been empty for the past four years and Ikeja Electric billed the property of less 20 people in total, N1.850 million between April and June of 2020. Our house had paid over N12 million in years to Ikeja Electric. 

What the residents are asking for is just installation of prepaid meters but this power distribution company will not make that happen because GRA is the target for the company.

During our findings, wife to the property owner, Remilekun Animasaun, expressed sadness over the ways Ikeja Electric has behaved and that her husband, Dr Dapo Animasaun, had earlier in the week honoured an invitation from Area F Command of Lagos State, with complaints from the power distribution company on how occupants from the premises had disrupted its officials from disconnecting the property from power supply. 

She claimed that her husband complained over the issues of outrageous bill and had written to entire Ikeja Electric’s offices on need for the company to install prepaid meters on the property but all to no avail. 

Animashaun said that since Nigeria has government in place, there was urgent need for regulatory bodies to intervene and checkmate activities of power distribution companies and that investigate cases of denial of access to prepaid meters and other related issues including outrageous billing as raised by her and other co-occupants of the property. 

The distribution company came to our property when they know that our husbands would have gone out for daily breads and they intimidated us, the wives and children, kept us under panic for hours. 

“Ikeja Electric using police to threaten us and our children was wrong and government needs to investigate the actions. The illegitimate actions by the power distribution will continue if nothing is done about it from the angle of regulators”. 

“This company has violated our human right and that of little right we have on them as residents, consumers and customer whose interests are to be protected”. 

A security guard opposite the property, Friday Goto, told our corespondent that he had hide in his security post after police barricaded both his gate and entrance of the property and scared away innocent children that were playing in the compound. 

He said that Ikeja Electric did not understand implications of the actions of using police to intimidate people and that even security guys of the property at first ran for their lives. 

“This Ayoola Coker street looked like war zone yesterday with presence of mobile policemen whose appearance became a threat not for people living on the property alone but other residents on the street. 

Women and Children, house maids and security guards had hid somewhere in presence of guns”, he added.

Meanwhile, owner of the property, Dr. Animasaun, who also spoke to The Guild, said that Ikeja Electric must have targeted when himself and co-occupants of the property would not be around to carry out the actions and that the place had remained the power distribution company’s focus of making money. 

He claimed that within two years, the property had paid over nine million naira, even while most of the duplexes in the compound still remain empty. 

Dr. Animasaun lamented that the power distribution company had designed method that would help it in milking residents of the property and that it had also refused to install prepaid meters on the duplexes so as to continue making money from the place through estimated billing. 

“In two years this property had paid about N10 million to Ikeja Electric with hope that when the company install prepaid meters, the billing would stop but we discovered that our property seems to have been marked as one of the places where the power distributor generate its unjustified revenue

Between April and June of this 2020 alone, the property was billed N1.850 million, and just about 20 days ago, one million naira was paid under understanding that the issue would be resolved. 

“Just exactly nine days after payment of the one million naira was made, Ikeja Electric officials came on Sunday at about 7am, when mothers and children were still sleeping, and removed us from power supply without any notice.

They claimed that the property had to clear an outstanding of N850,000, whereas, the place survived the whole June and July without electricity. 

According to him, despite payment of N12 million in three years to Ikeja Electric, the property was disconnected for ten months within the period indicated. 

 

Dr. Animasaun explained that a transformer that supplies power to the property was purchased and privately own by himself and that power distributor had no contribution other than the distribution of energy. 

“I purchased my transformer and also paid for private installation of it. We have been telling Ikeja Electric to install prepaid meters but the company refused to do so, so as to continue enjoying the ways it is milking us. 

We have identified the mobile policemen to have  been hired from MOPOL 22 and both the company’s Business District Unit Head and GRA Undertaking Manager were the brains behind the actions,” he said    

When our corespondent put call through to the power distribution company’s Public Relation Officer, Ayeni, for clarification on the matter, the spokesmen told The Guild that he was not aware of the situation and that he might have to wait for security department to brief him. 

Although, The General Manager, Coorperate Communication, Ikeja Electronic, Felix Ofulue, through a text message confirmed that he had met with all correspondences as regards to the matter and that he would recommend that the owner of property meet with police so as to resolved the issue amicably.

“I will suggest the Owner of the property to honour the invitation of the Police so this matter can be settled amicably. I have seen all the correspondences with regards to this matter”.

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