The Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission on Tuesday announced an outright ban on the mass disconnection of electricity consumers by power distribution companies across the country.
In May, the power distribution companies commenced what they described as the mass disconnection of chronic debtors, who allegedly owed them N94bn.
The Executive Director, Association of Nigeria Electricity Distributors, Mr. Sunday Oduntan, who confirmed the mass disconnection exercise, stressed that the Discos published advertisements in all major newspapers asking the chronic debtors to pay up within 10 days.
But NERC, in a public announcement on Tuesday, said its attention had been drawn to incidents of mass disconnection of electricity supply to communities, villages, local government areas and estates by the distribution companies on the excuse of non-payment of electricity bills.
It said, “Please note that the commission has developed procedures for disconnection of defaulting customers as contained in the regulation on connection and disconnection of electricity services. The commission has also banned mass disconnection of electricity customers.
“Therefore, any community, village, local government area or estate wrongfully disconnected from electricity supply should report to the commission for its further action.
“Consequently, electricity disconnection by the Discos is strictly to be effected in accordance with the provision of sections 5-11 of the commission’s Connection and Disconnection Procedures for Electricity Services Regulation.
“Electricity customers who pay their bills should not be disconnected via a mass disconnection of his/her community, block of flats, estate, etc. Any mass disconnection carried out by the Discos in contravention of the provisions of the above regulation is illegal and should be reported to the commission.”
When contacted on the directive, Oduntan told our correspondent that the power firms had informed the commission of their actions and explained what they meant by mass disconnection.
He said, “When we say mass disconnection, it does not mean we are going to disconnect a whole village or a whole town. Mass disconnection in our case means that we are disconnecting all historic debtors and NERC has commended us for that privately.