Christian Ejike Anigbo, aged 31 has been arraigned by the Police before an Ikeja Magistrate Court and subsequently remanded at the Kirikiri Correctional facility for by-passing electric meter belonging to Ikeja Electric on the 9th of December 2022 in Lagos.
According to an eye witness, Christian Ejike Anigbo was arrested on 28th November 2022 by law enforcement agents at No. 3, Balogun Street, Off Obafemi Awolowo Way, Ikeja, for meter by-pass and he was handed over to the police for prosecution. The Defendant was therefore arraigned on a three-count charge of conspiracy with others now at large, to commit unlawful interference with Ikeja Electric’s property and thereby committed an offence contrary to section 411 and punishable under section 412 of Criminal Law of Lagos State 2015.
In addition, he was charged for unlawful reconnection of electricity by tampering with Ikeja Electric prepaid meter to bypass the same for the consumption of electricity and thereby committed an offence contrary to and punishable under section 340 of Criminal Laws of Lagos State 2015. Ejike was also charged for conducting himself in a manner likely to cause a breach of the peace by connecting electricity unlawfully in a public place and thereby committed an offence contrary to and punishable under section 168 (d) of the Criminal Law of Lagos State.
The Defendant pleaded not guilty to the three-count charge and his Counsel applied for him to be granted bail on liberal terms. Bail was granted to the Defendant in the sum of N200,000 (Two hundred Thousand Naira), two sureties in the like sum, which sureties are to provide evidence of tax payment. The addresses of the sureties are also to be verified. The Defendant was remanded at the Kirikiri Correctional Facility pending the perfection of his bail conditions. The matter was adjourned to 19th January 2023 for mention.
The Head Legal and Regulatory Compliance Barr. Osadare stated that one of the major challenges affecting the efficient service delivery of distribution companies (DisCo) is the high incidence of energy theft. He stated that energy theft is any act by a customer/consumer that hinders or limits the ability of a Disco to properly account or receive value for energy supplied. This includes acts of meter by-pass, meter shunting, free riding, hook-on/hook-off, illegal connection and reconnection, etc.
According to him, the negative impacts of energy theft on the value chain are so grave that it robs the value chain of the critical revenue required to effectively drive the power sector. The act should therefore be condemned and discouraged by well-meaning members of society.
Osadare said further that apart from the fact that the law frowns at energy theft, it is morally wrong to take or use electricity that does not belong to you or that is meant for the entire community to avoid payment or to dubiously pass on the payment responsibility to other innocent persons. The safety of lives and property also matters as tampering with meters and acts of illegal connections can lead to a total blackout, explosion and even electrocution. It is therefore the collective responsibility of everyone in our communities to ensure that the provision of electricity services is not disrupted.
We will continue to work hard to ensure excellent customer experience by our esteemed customers, which speaks to our mantra “Customer first, technology now”. He said.
While advising customers to avoid any form of energy theft, He commended the traditional rulers, community leaders, influencers, youth leaders and security agencies for providing dependable support and for the role they play in protecting IE infrastructure against energy theft and vandalism.
He urged members of the public to report any form of energy theft, meter bypass, illegal connection and suspected person around electrical facilities through Ikeja Electric’s whistle-blower hotlines 08008476337 or 08000TIPOFFS.