Report on Interest
under logo

SOS…70yrs old retiree woman, other residents inside Ikeja Electric metering bondage

By Idris Odewunmi, Idowu Abdullahi

Just when Nigerians were about to begin sighing relief from decades of power supply nightmares and enjoy a pinch of government’s benevolence, people may wonder on what could have been offence of a Lagos based seventy years old retiree woman, Joy Ottih, at hands of Ikeja Electric, whom she claimed had subjected her to sufferings and kept her home in darkness at will.

To an average Nigerian, the aged woman must have been frustrated by either monthly billing or issues from metering system of power distribution companies, who may not have seen any crime in not conducting proper survey of homes and occupants before forwarding apportioned bill to residences.

Usually, in apartment of such age woman, energy consumption should not be more than minimal, which would be to power television and radios sets, and maybe refrigerator, and anything contrary to that, it means the aged retiree may need God’s intervention to get out of the power distribution company’s bondage.

Of course, no thanks to Ikeja electric, even after Ottih had paid for prepaid meter so as to end era of estimated billing, Ikeja electric would not stop sending the innocent woman outrageous charges, neither show mercy on the aged woman anytime she is not able to clear the bill, and her house must remain in darkness.

And when the retiree visited the company for solution, she met no helper and was advised to talk to machine like other residents with same nightmares, an action that indicated that the woman problem is not likely to end soon.

Meanwhile, the retiree woman’s experience was not different from that of sea of residents on mainland axis of Lagos, and from The Guild’s finding, it was discovered that Ikeja Electric has been looking away on Lagosians’ complaints on issue of overbilling, estimation charge and that of clamour for prepaid meter installation.

Narrating her ordeal with Ikeja Electric since 2019, Ottih, who reside in Akute axis of Lagos, told The Guild that she had been undergoing trauma over outrageous bills that a woman of such her age had been receiving from the power distribution company and that both federal and state governments may have to intervene on the matter.

She claimed that despite all her efforts to ensure prepaid meter was installed at her apartment, the Ikeja Electric was not ready to do the needful and that instead, the company had continue manipulating system through estimation billing to favour its monthly target.

The aged woman accused the company of been intentionally frustrating system so as to discourage consumers from going for prepaid meters and that Ikeja Electric would continue having issues with people if it refuses to do needful.

According to her, residents are feeling cheated and both government and regulatory bodies need to come to people rescue against refusal of Ikeja Electric to install prepaid meters across homes in Lagos.

She disclosed that there were people of her age with similar situation in her community and that the action of the power distribution company requires immediate government attention to remove consumers from bondage

“I paid for pre-paid meter in November 2019, after receiving my pension. A few days later, I received a Short Messages (SMS) that the meter has been installed, but there was no meter installed”.

Ottih noted that hours after receiving the message, she reached out to Ikeja Electric unit at Akute axis where she was promised that an inspection team would be deployed to verify her claim and correct the anomaly.

“A team was sent but still no meter, exactly the same thing repeated itself in December, another team was sent still no meter. I went to the same Ikeja Electric at Akute in January to complain but I was directed to the head office. Since January till now, August, I have not collected my meter, by October it will be one year.

“I have been standing since morning, they have not offered me any solution, they had said it is online, you will call them to no response, until one day I will show these people the stuff I am made of, scatter this place and they will carry me to any police station that they like, maybe by that time my meter will come out,” she added.

Similarly, residents within Ikeja Government Residential Area (GRA) had recently cried out against how IKeja Electric had been milking houses in the axis through outrageous bills and other avenues, just as they draw government’s attention to need for questioning the company’s operation.

Through their associations, they laid complaints against outrageous charges from estimation bills and refusal by the company to install prepaid meters across homes within the government residential area.

To these residents, the power distribution company does not engage in an accurate enumeration of property before apportioning bills to consumers and that the bills were prepared without probing power distributed to homes and its usage.

A resident of the area, who identified himself as Great Prince expressed displeasure over Ikeja Electric ways of frustrating residents with billing and described system by the company as outrageous and that it does not represent consumers’ accurate monthly consumption.

Prince, who claimed to have been billed N2.4 million for four months power consumption, alleged that the billing procedure was faulty and that the company was not interested in correcting the anomaly since it profits from the system.

The customer hinted that after clearing N1.6 million and assured the company of other payment to avert disconnection from the power grid, Ikeja electric officials disconnected his apartment from power supply.

He said: “Our building was said to consume 8,140kwh of electricity in three weeks, which can never be true, now it has skyrocketed to 30,000kwh of electricity consumed for one week, are we feeding the whole GRA, judging by that 120,000kwh plus will be the total consumption in a month. Now the question is what happened to the billing system?”.

For another resident on No 4 Ayoola Coker street in the area, Dapo Animasaun, federal government needs to come to rescue of common Nigerians on issues of outrageous billing from Ikeja Electric and that regulatory bodies must end ways the power distribution company have been exploiting Nigerians.

Animasaun, who spoke to The Guild on cases of outrageous billing in GRA, claimed that his property and occupants were recently billed N1.850 million for month of April, till June By Ileja Electric and that nine days after a million naira was paid to the power distributor’s account, his property was disconnected from power supply.

Anishasaun said that the government needs to look into operation of the company and caution it against abusing and harassing residents with policemen who were meant to protect lives and properties of citizens.

“About two weeks ago, Ikeja Electric laid siege on our house with over 20 mobile policemen from MOPOL 22 and caused mother and children to panic and run for their lives”.

“This is how rude this company and its people have become, particularly the company staff that have turn themselves to untouchable elements.

“Ikeja Elelctric claimed that they resolved to the action because its officials met our resistance when they came to disconnect our house from power supply”. The power company officials met our resistance after we paid a million to the company account and they came to remove our house from supply unjustly”.

“Within two years, our house had paid about N10 million to Ikeja Electric, during the period we had requests for prepaid meters so as to determine our energy consumption but the company staff would not agree to our demand but rather to continue milking us through postpaid metering system.

“I personally spoke to Head of Ikeja business unit of the power distribution company, and as well as undertaking manager of GRA who are women on need for installation of prepared meters, but their justifications were flimsy and it was obvious that the company was ready to supply the meters”.

However, as gathered, issues of estimation billing, prepaid meters, and excessiveness by Ikeja Electric staff were general problems across Lagos but peculiar to residents on mainland axis of the state.

A computer engineer and resident of Mushin, Mike Ikechukwu, described the company’s billing system as lopsided, saying the power distributor’s mode of operation was an indication that the company was in business to end power supply issue but added problem to it.

Ikechukwu lamented how he had on several occasions visited Ikeja Electric head office to register complaints about his house that was not metered with prepaid despite the fact he had paid for the device and that the company had not yet done anything on his complaint.

The computer engineer hinged that he was advised by a staff of the power distribution company to go for prepaid meter so as to put stop to outrageous charges his house often receives from the company Monthly.

He claimed that his house had received several bills from the company and that only way to end such high charges was to go for meter that would enable customers to know rate of energy consumed daily and monthly.

“At times I was not able to clear any of the bills; the Ikeja Electric’s staff would have been standing by at pole to disconnect us from power supply. On the average N15,000 is charged on each bill. The complaint has been unattended since 2017. The apartment is in Ogunmokun in Mushin. We have written to Ikeja electric and NERC but there is no solution, that is why we are in their head office but still, no attention is given to our complaint”.

Also, a staff of Lagos State, Timilehin Akinwunmi, lamented that the power distribution company neither installed prepaid meter that he and his co-tenant paid for nor do the company stop sending monthly estimated bill to his house.

Akinwunmi noted that money paid to offset some of his bills does not reflect and that complaints made at the company’s office have not yielded results with frequent disconnection from power grid.

“We paid N400, 000 for six prepaid meters and when we complained over delay in installation, we were told by the power distribution company that it should have been installed. And even after that, each flat received N31,000 three days ago; this has left many of us in dilemma”.

Similarly, an artisan, Tirimisiu Olayiwola, who could not hold back his dissatisfaction against services and charges from Ikeja Electrics, disclosed that even after his workshop was removed from power supply and resort to generator for power source, the company had not stopped forwarding monthly bill to the place.

Olayiwola added that the monthly bill received after removal from the grid did not reflect that his workshop was already disconnected and that complaints made to the company have not stopped estimated billing.

“I disconnected my wires from the power supply with due notice, secured a generating set to power my business so as to take a big relief from their estimated billing coupled with their contemptuous actions towards customers. But to my surprise I received a bill of N14,000 monthly for about four months and counting without a wire connected to the pole, this is so unbelievable as it is a testament to the fact that every customer under Ikeja Electric is ripped off of their hard-earned money”.

When The Guild learnt of the situation, it contacted the company’s Public Relations Officer, Olusola Ayeni, to find out about the issues raised by cross-sections of customers and residents but the power distributor’s spokesperson disclosed to our correspondent that he was not in position to speak on the matter.

Meanwhile, efforts to also speak to Managing Director, Corporate Communications, Ikeja Electric, Felix Ofulue, on the allegations proved abortive as he was not available to discuss the matter.

Just as Aghogho, a staff of Lagos Inland Revenue Service, who shared similar experience under anonymous condition, faulted the power distribution company for always making excuses to justify its actions on issues residents and property often face as regard over billing and other related problem.

He said that his four-bedroom house at Magodo Isheri receives N65,000 monthly from Ikeja Electric and that effort to put stop to the billing has remained impossible as there were no personnel of the company to speak to.

“Going to the company’s office is a war on its own. When you get there, for hours, there would be no staff to attend to people and even when you get to meet any of the personnel, it is always nothing to write home about”.

“We know that prepaid meter is the solution but even the Ikeja Electric is not allowing that dream to happen because the company knows that once people get the meter, there would no longer be problem”.

Leave A Reply

Your email address will not be published.