The Federal Ministry of Justice, in collaboration with Jos Electricity Distribution Company (JEDC), has inaugurated a joint task force to checkmate energy theft and other related offences.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the task force was named: Special Investigation and Prosecution Task Force on Electricity Offences (SIPTEO).
Speaking at the occasion on Thursday in Jos, Managing Director of JEDC, Mr Abdu Mohammed, said it would help bring to the barest minimum the issues of massive revenue leakages and investment losses resulting from energy theft and vandalism of electrical assets.
Mohammed noted that despite having a metering penetration of 240,000, those on prepaid meters represented 35 per cent of the company’s entire customer base, with an expected monthly revenue of N2.5 billion.
He, however, said that the company only made N1.4 billion monthly from prepaid customers, adding that 50 per cent of its collection was lost to energy theft.
According to him, the act undermines the company’s efforts at ensuring efficient service delivery.
Mohammed said that in 2021, the company spent N7,298,134 on critical infrastructure upgrades, with the intent to improve reliability and safety of services.
He, however, said the assets had come under relentless wave of attacks by vandals, notwithstanding their benefits to communities.
This is clearly a double jeopardy for the company. While the company’s revenue is being massively depleted by vandalism and energy theft, the little that trickles in is expended on repair and replacement of the assets wrecked by vandals.
The Managing Director said the company had expended between N400 million and N500 million on fixing and replacing vandalised transformers in 2023.
“This is clearly a double jeopardy for the company. While the company’s revenue is being massively depleted by vandalism and energy theft, the little that trickles in is expended on repair and replacement of the assets wrecked by vandals,” he said.
Earlier, the Board Chairman of JEDC, Alhaji Adamu Wakil, said that the initiative was laudable, as it would help clamp down energy theft and revenue loss.
NAN reports that the company had said that vandalism (theft of electricity lines and materials) attracts three to five years imprisonment and energy theft (meter tampering, bypass, hooking and intentional damage of electricity infrastructure) between six months and three years imprisonment.
Similarly, the offence of receiving stolen electricity attracts a penalty of 14 years imprisonment, while obstruction of JEDC staffers in the discharge of their duties attracts six years imprisonment or N2 million fine.
NAN also reports that various military and paramilitary agencies pledged their support in the fight against energy theft via provision of logistics. (NAN)