Deji Elumoye in Abuja
The theft and vandalisation of electricity cables by criminals may soon attract a jail term of seven years upon conviction if the Bill before the National Assembly is eventually passed into law.
Already, the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission, NERC, has submitted a Bill seeking to prevent and criminalise electricity theft and power infrastructure vandalisation to the federal legislature.
Executive Chairman of NERC, Professor James Momoh, on Wednesday submitted the bill to the National Assembly through Chairman of the Senate Committee on Power, Steel Development and Metallurgy, Senator Enyinnaya Abaribe.
The Bill titled “A Bill for an Act To Prohibit and Prevent Electricity Theft, Power Infrastructure Vandalisation and Power Company Protection 2017,” seeks to punish any person found to have engaged in illegal and unlawful use of electricity and destruction of electric power infrastructure with a jail term of seven years upon conviction.
Objectives of the Bill include to amend section 94(3) of the Electric Power Sector Reform Act, 2005 to curb and deter illegal and unauthorised use of regulated electricity supply as well as to protect electricity infrastructure.
It also provides that “If a person having been convicted of an offence punishable under the law commits similar offence he shall be liable for the subsequent offence to the term of imprisonment which shall not be less than seven years.”
According to NERC, the power sector in Nigeria suffers from energy losses of 30-35%, largely due to stealing and sabotage.
The Commission emphasised that instances of some electricity consumers, by-passing electric meters and the vandalisation of power transformers, feeder pillars, electric cable stealing, are wide spread adding that the situation directly contributes to the present crisis in Nigeria’s power sector.
NERC noted that for Nigeria, taking stern measures to combat the menace, logically comes within the larger context of the Federal Government’s current battle against corruption.
It said for example, the country can barely generate a mere 4,043 megawatts from its 23 grid-connected generating facilities.
The implication, according to the commission, is that the country has one of the lowest power consumption per capita in the world.