By Chineme Okafor in Abuja
For reportedly failing to secure its electricity distribution assets from third-party intrusion, which eventually led to the death of a four-year-old male child in Niger State, the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) has fined the Abuja Electricity Distribution Company (AEDC) N300 million.
NERC also disclosed in a notice of its regulatory enforcement action against AEDC that out of the N300 million fine, the family of the deceased minor, Master Mohammed Arafat Jibril, will get N50 million in compensation for their loss.
The regulatory enforcement order, which was obtained by THISDAY in Abuja from the commission, stated amongst others that AEDC did not do enough to prevent the death of the boy on April 11, 2019, by securing its electricity distribution asset at the Senior Quarters of the Federal low-Cost Housing Estate, Maikunkele, Bosso Local Government Area of Niger State from third-party entry.
According to NERC, Mohammed died from electrocution on a 300 kilovolt amp (kVA) 11/0.415kVA distribution substation in Maikunkele area, which feeds from 33/11 kV Maikunkele injection substation on Airport feeder in Bosso, Niger area.
It explained that the distribution asset supplied electricity to the quarters, where Mohammed and his family lived, adding that Section 1.3.26 Part IV of its distribution code imposed an obligation on Abuja Disco to ensure that distribution transformers, switchgears, and distribution boxes installed in streets and accessible to public shall be protected by locking the doors and/or providing a suitable fence with gate wherever possible.
NERC also stated that beyond securing the assets, the Disco ought to have put up prominently displayed ‘danger’ signs on the fence and equipment to warn the public of the implications of any unauthorised access.
It noted that Section 5.3.1 of the Nigerian Electricity Health and Safety Code (HSC) required AEDC to send a preliminary report within 72 hours of the accident and death of Mohammed, but the Disco failed to do so.
“AEDC’s negligence in complying with the terms and conditions of its licence, distribution code and HSC resulted in the death of a 4-year old boy, Master Mohammed Arafat Jibril, on 11 April 2019 at the Senior Quarters of the Federal low-Cost Housing Estate, Maikunkele, Bosso Local Government Area of Niger,” NERC said in the regulatory order.
It added: “AEDC failed to take reasonable steps to protect the public from injury by ensuring that distribution systems are maintained in accordance with standards in the distribution code thereby leading to the fatal electrocution of Master Mohammed Arafat Jibril.
“AEDC failed to send a preliminary report of the accident within 72 hours contrary to the provisions of section 5.3.1 of the HSC. AEDC failed to comply with the provisions of the commission’s regulations and breached the terms and conditions of its distribution licence.”
“AEDC shall pay the sum of N50 million to the family of late Master Mohammed Arafat Jibril as compensation to his family and this compensation payment shall be made to the family at formal presentation to be held at the commission on 28 May, 2019.
“AEDC shall pay a fine in the sum of N250 million to the commission for all infractions/violations identified in this order. This fine shall be due and payable by 20 May 2019,” said the NERC, which also mandated the Disco to “conduct a detailed safety audit of its network,” and send to it within 90 days.
The NERC also showed the safety records of Abuja Disco between 2018 and 2019, and said it recorded nine deaths, two burns and a fall within the period.
In a similar development, NERC equally fined a third-party electricity distributor in Lagos – PIPP LVI Disco Limited, the sum of N10,000 for each day that it allegedly supplied electricity illegally to customers that were not within its licence terms.
It explained that PIPP was licensed by it to supply electricity to certain group of customers but it subsequently got a complaint from the Eko Disco of PIPP’s extension of its services without regulatory approval to Landmark Tower and Village; Trinity Church; Upbeat Recreational Centre; The George Hotel; Second Toll Gate Plaza; Ministry of Works and Infrastructure (Tolling Company); Street Light, Glover Road, Ikoyi, Lagos; Batequip (Sun Heaven Hotel); Motor Boat Club; Riverside Properties Ltd; as well as Globe Motors Holding Nigeria Limited, amongst others.
NERC therefore asked PIPP to immediately suspend its supply of electricity to these customers, adding that it would also compensate Eko Disco for loss of revenue for each day electricity was supplied to the customers.