Port Harcourt Electricity Distribution PLC (PHED) has uncovered a massive energy theft and meter by-pass of not less than a N25million perpetuated by a popular shopping mall in Uyo.
A statement by PHED’s Head of Corporate Communications, John Anonyai, said, “Prior to this discovery, different technical teams from PHED had visited the customer on several occasions to check the integrity of their meter installation of which they were denied access to the customer’s premises.
“However, a team finally gained access into the premises, with the assistance of law enforcement agents on 15th December 2021,where it carried out a thorough investigation on the meter installation and validity. The investigation showed that the customer by-passed their installed meter and connected the bulk of their energy load directly to the pole resulting in the non-capturing of the entire energy consumption by the meter installed.
“Upon further assessment to determine the cause of the load imbalance, it was discovered that besides the central change-over panel, the shopping mall with intent to de-fraud PHED had installed another change-over panel where bulk of their energy was diverted from the meter. To further lay credence to the discovery, PHED team switched off the central changeover and discovered that a section of the mall had no electricity supply while the other part was still powered and the energy was not being recorded by the meter installed at the premises.
The value of the energy stolen by the shopping mall from PHED amounts to over N25, 000, 000.00)
“The MD/CEO PHED Dr. Henry Ajagbawadecried the massive energy theft discovered at the shopping mall, describing it as unprecedented and lamented the fact that PHED loses hundreds of millions monthly to energy theft, meter by-pass and vandalism across its franchise area.”
He also noted that this has adversely affected PHED’s collection efficiency and has become a clog in the wheel of progress for the business and warned that culprits caught in the web of these offences will be prosecuted in line with extant state and federal laws on the subject particularly under Section 400 of the Criminal Code Act and Section 1 (9 and 10) of the Miscellaneous Offences Act.
“In keeping with the unwavering commitment of PHED’s management to decisively deal with energy theft, meter bypass, vandalism and other sundry offences, the shopping mall was petitioned to Commissioner of Police, Akwa Ibom State. The team to which the matter was referred made arrests and conducted extensive investigations into the infraction. At the conclusion of the investigations, the culprits who are officials of the shopping mall were arraigned at the Magistrate Court, Uyo, Akwa Ibom State, where they are being prosecuted on a two-count charge.”