Abuja Electricity Distribution (AEDC) Plc has expressed concern over what it describes as an increasing spate of attacks on its field workers, describing it as unwarranted, vicious, inhuman and criminal. It said no action of AED Plc staff doing their legitimate job warrants the use of bullets to scare them or attack them with dangerous weapons like shovel, especially where there are redress mechanisms put in place by the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) and AED Plc as a Company which holds the customer in very high esteem. The Company said a fondness for self-help is a criminal breach of the right of the staff who are carrying out their legitimate duties.
A statement issued by the Company on Sunday also disclosed that its management has written a petition to the Inspector General of Police (IGP) against the Divisional Police Officerof Kubwa in Abuja, Mr.Ayobami Surajudeen for what it described as the unprofessional way he handled a case of assault and threat to the lives of three AED Plc staff. “We write to register our petition against the Divisional Police Officer (DPO) of Kubwa Divisional Police Station – Mr.Abayomi Surajudeen for the unprofessional way he handled a case of assault and threat to lives of three members of our staff, who were intimidated, assaulted and manhandled by two mobile policemen attached to Pet Leisure Park, Kubwa, whilst our staff were carrying out their legitimate duties”. Pet Leisure Park is a private firm located at 2/1 Junction in Kubwa, Abuja.
In the statement, AED Plc catalogued the series of attacks visited on its workers by some members of the public. According to the statement, a staff of the Company who was on a revenue recovery exercise in Gwagwalada, a satellite town of the Federal Capital Territory(FCT) was viciously attacked and hit at the back of his head with a shovel,as a result of which a deep cut was inflicted on him. Before then, a pregnant cashier was also harassed by a mobile policeman while in Kubwa, AED Plc staff who were on revenue drive were prevented from disconnecting a debtor customer by mobile policemen who had to fire live rounds to scare the staff away.
In the petition to the IGP, AED Plc narrated how its men were prevented from disconnecting electricity supply to the premises of Pet Leisure Park by the mobile policemen on guard duty despite all entreaties and explanation. Not ready to allow the AED Plc men do their job, “the policemen unleashed their full might on our team and fired two shots of live ammunition in the process”.
Apparently scared by the conduct of the mobile policemen, the AED Plc and in order to avoid any irreversible situation, withdrew from the scene and quickly reported the matter at the Divisional Police Headquarters in Kubwa where Mr.Surajudeen is the DPO. The AED Plc men were directed to report at the Station the following day of the incidence, which they complied with but were shocked to hear that they would be charged for inciting the disturbance of public peace. According to the statement, this sounded quite unbelievable until the AED Plc men were arraigned in Court as threatened by the Kubwa DPO.
AED Plc said although the most potent tool it has for the recovery of its revenue from debtor customers is to discontinue the supply of electricity to them, the tool of disconnection is only deployed when all efforts to persuade the customer to settle his/her outstanding bill has failed. The resort to self-help and the use of dangerous weapons by an aggrieved customer therefore amounts to an attempt to deny it of revenue accruing to it as well as intimidate its workers who are permitted by the law of the land to undertake the activity. The Company said while it will not compromise its relation with customers, it also has a duty as an organisation to protect its workers who are also connected one way or the other to the customers.
It therefore appealed to customers and all members of the public to always exercise restraint and not be quick in resorting to physical assault whenever there is any disagreement between them and the staff of AED Plc. The Company, according to the statement,always handles the complaints of its customers with all seriousness as they remain the reason why it is in business.