Emmanuel Addeh in Yenagoa
Three policemen and six officials of the Port Harcourt Electricity Distribution Company (PHED) have been seriously injured in clashes with some youths in Yenagoa, Bayelsa State.
THISDAY learnt that the wounded persons were attacked in different parts of Bayelsa State over attempts by the organisation to recover debts and an ensuing disconnection exercise.
The Business Service Manager, PHED, Pere Alazigha, it was gathered, was one of the company’s officials attacked with various dangerous weapons and left in a pool of blood by the angry youths.
Another employee of the electricity company, identified as Christian Umegbewe, PHED confirmed yesterday, was pushed down from the ladder as he attempted to disconnect some houses in the capital city.
In a statement issued by the Protocol Officer and Corporate Communications Officer, Sophilia Obire, the company specifically said the security personnel attached to officials while on a disconnection exercise were attacked in Epie community.
“The attack, which was spearheaded by youths, resulted in injury to three policemen, the Business Service Manager, Pere Alazigha, a linesman, Christian Umegbewe and other staff members involved in the disconnection exercise.
“While Alazigha was left with a machete cut on his body, Umegbewe was pushed down from the ladder by the youths during the disconnection process. Both of them were immediately hospitalised”, the company noted.
While condemning the act, PHED said that the company would not relent in its commitment in serving their paying customers. “And this we hope to achieve by ensuring that customers pay for energy consumed’”, it said.
The management of the company appealed to the public to desist from attacking staff members who are willing to render quality service to them.
Also speaking on the development, the Head, Glory City Main Integrated Business Centre, Yenagoa, Mrs. Ngozi Manafa, said the Ford Hilux conveying staff members to the venue was also damaged, leaving its windscreen shattered.
“The Epie Community had an outstanding debt record of N60,484,304.56 and a current bill of N2,321,327.78, to which they paid N70,000.00 and N50,000.00 respectively. The incident was the second to take place within the week as two days before, a disconnection team of PHED was also beaten up at Airtel Road.
“Only last month, some residents of Akemfa community attacked PHED staff on collection drive with the Business Service Manager, Mr. Festus Owi. He was taken to the bush by some angry residents, a situation that led other PHED staff running for cover. This community owes the company over N47,130,2.26”, she disclosed.
She added, “Several other attacks have also been witnessed in Koroma in Gbarain clan of Bayelsa state, where one PHED staff was held hostage and one of the Hillux pick up vans was also damaged.”