Unlawful disconnection: AEDC staff bags six months in prison

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A magistrate court sitting in Lokoja has sentenced a staff of Abuja Electricity Distribution Company Company AEDC, Mr. James Olayemi to six months in prison with an option of a fine N50, 000 for unlawful disconnection of electricity supply to a customer’s house in Lokoja, Kogi State.

The Chief Magistrate, Tanko Muhammed on Thursday sentenced the first defendant, James Olayemi to six months in prison and ordered the reconnection of electricity supply to the compound of Mr. Dennis Osawota with immediate effect.

Earlier, the complainant, Mr. Dennis Osawota who is a retired staff of the National Inland Waterways Authority (NIWA) had dragged Olayemi, the Marketing officer and the Regional Manager, Lamidi Obadaki to court over the damages done to his property and unlawful disconnection of electricity supply to his house even after payment N370,000 for February.

The duo had allegedly committed the offence contrary to Regulations 5 and 11 of the Nigeria Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission Connection And Disconnection Procedures for Electricity Services 2007 and punishable under Section 94 of the electric power sector reform (EPSR) Act 2005.

The prosecution counsel, O.C. King Esq. who was represented by Emeje Aruwa Esq, the private prosecution was brought pursuant to sections 86, 87, 88, 107 (a), (e), 108(1) (c), 111, 112 and 113 of the Kogi State Administration of Criminal Justice Law 2017, by Surveyor Dennis Osanwuta.

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According to the prosecution, the defendants, on March 10, 2020, alongside others still at large, did “maliciously and unlawfully disconnect the electricity supply to metre with Account number 715718350 supplying electricity to the building being occupied by the complainant No 1, NIWA Quarters, Lokoja, Kogi State.

The first information report FIR read in part, “That you and others now at large on the 10th March 2020 within the Magisterial District of this court, did conspire amongst yourselves to commit a felony.

“To wit: Unlawful disconnection of electricity supply and thereby committed an offence punishable under section 97 of the Penal Code, Laws of Kogi State.

Aruwa also submitted that the duo did conspire to carry out disconnection of electricity supply to the premises of the complainant although he did not default in payment of his bills and described the act as unlawful.

He urged the court to take cognizance of Regulation 10(8) of the Nigeria Electricity Regulatory Commission, Connection and Disconnection Procedures of Electricity Services, 2007.

However, the Counsel to the defendants, C.P. Ocheja Esq. urged the court to determine whether the prosecution had made out a prima facie case against the defendants to warrant the court compelling them to enter their defence.

Ocheja urged the court to strike out the case over the presumed inability of the prosecution to establish a prima facie case against the defendants to link them with the alleged offences.

In his judgement, the Chief Magistrate, Muhammed Tanko absolved the Regional Manager AEDC, Mr.Lamidi Obadaki, the second defendant of any complicity on two counts of charges of criminal conspiracy and unlawful disconnection of power supply to the defendant.

He said the evidence before indicated that there was no link between him criminal activities of the first defendant.

Tank explained that the first defendant, James Olayemi has been sentenced for running contrary to Sections 5 and 11Nigeria Electricity Regulatory Commission Connection And Disconnection Procedures for Electricity Services 2007 and punishable under Section 94 of the electric power sector reform (EPSR) Act 2005.

According to Magistrate Tanko Mohammed, the provision of section 5 stated that the electricity consumers are given a maximum of 10 days for payment of electricity bill and 3 months before disconnection after the AEDC must have formerly written to inform the customers of the impending disconnection.

“In view of evidence before me, the complainant has not been given such opportunity, therefore the first defendant is guilty as charged. I hereby sentence him to six months imprisonment and an option of fine of N50,000”, he ruled.

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