Chineme Okafor in Abuja
A preliminary report of the investigation conducted by the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) on the cause of a July 2016 electricity accident, which claimed three lives and injured over five others in the densely populated suburb of Lugbe area of Abuja has revealed that Abuja Electricity Distribution Company (Disco) which supply electricity to the area may be culpable.
The report of the investigation, according to NERC discovered that Abuja Disco breached the Regulator’s codes on operating its network within the Tudun Wada area.
NERC’s acting Chairman, Dr. Anthony Akah told THISDAY in an exclusive interview that the Disco had erred by delivering power to the area via an unsafe network.
He said for that reason and many others, an enforcement action could be meted to it when the final investigative report is submitted.
“The Lugbe incident is an accident that reflects the generally poor distribution network in Nigeria. The network, upon investigation is totally at variance with the distribution code and all other regulations bothering on safe delivery of power,” said Akah.
He stated: “Ordinarily, by now, we would have concluded the enforcement action on Abuja Disco if found guilty. We have done our preliminary investigation which shows that Abuja Disco is culpable by delivering power via a distribution network that is significantly at variance with the distribution code.”
Akah said for the unnecessary intrusion of lawyers who claim representation for the victims of the electrocution, and the subsequent court cases from therein, the commission would have concluded with the Lugbe electrocution and awarded the necessary penalties.
“Necessary sanctions would have been taken by the commission including compensations but as we speak, we regrettably have more than 10 lawyers with multiple court cases claiming to represent the victims and community and in some instance to the disagreement of the victims and communities.”
“When these cases go to court, the commission takes a back seat because we won’t go against the court proceedings.
“We however appeal to Nigerians on this, that when incidents like this happen, lawyers should stay away because there is already a commission with the ample power to impose sanctions and resolve these issues,” he added.
Akah noted that: “The communities that get lawyers create problems because the commission will stay back and allow the Discos defend themselves in the court for as long as it will take them in court.
“The lawyers are not helping the communities, we treated the case in Lagos without unnecessary court cases or payments to any lawyer, there are precedents to show that the commission is up to its task in protecting consumers from bad practices of operators. The Regulator does these free of charge, and so people don’t need lawyers to get their claims rectified,” he added.