Elec­tric­ity firm staff bat­tered for ‘dis­con­nect­ing’ ex-IGP’s prop­erty

Sunday Trust - - NEWS - From Eu­gene Agha, Lagos

In or­der to put up a volte-face to please his prin­ci­pal, the Nasarawa State Com­mis­sioner for En­vi­ron­ment Gabriel Akaaka, or­dered the ar­rest and de­ten­tion of a 17-year-old JSS 3 Sec­ondary School stu­dent, Stephen Ter­lu­mum Tab­ulo, for com­ment­ing over the on­go­ing po­lit­i­cal strug­gle in the south­ern sen­a­to­rial district of the state.

Tab­ulo at­tends Gov­ern­ment Sec­ondary School, Adudu, in Obi Lo­cal Gov­ern­ment Area of the state.

The con­tro­versy be­gan when one Peter Ig­bacher, an ally of the com­mis­sioner lifted a story pub­lished in a news­pa­per cap­tioned “2019: stake­hold­ers plot against Al-Makura’s sen­a­to­rial am­bi­tion” on his face­book page which gen­er­ate re­ac­tions.

Tab­ulo al­legedly ac­cused Mr Akaaka of hold­ing clan­des­tine meet­ings with the Alagos­peak­ing peo­ple to stop the sen­a­to­rial am­bi­tion

Con­tro­versy has con­tin­ued to trail the al­leged bru­tal­iza­tion of a staff of the Eko Elec­tric­ity Dis­tri­bu­tion Com­pany and the Po­lice in Lagos, as the man­age­ment of the com­pany have vowed to fight the mat­ter un­til jus­tice was done to the case.

A staff of the com­pany, Dele Ogun­dele, was bru­tal­ized by a po­lice sergeant, At­tah Ani­noko, at­tached to a house re­port­edly owned by a for­mer In­spec­tor-Gen­eral of Po­lice, Mo­hammed Abubakar, lo­cated at Oniru Street, Ikoyi, Lagos.

While, the Po­lice in Lagos had main­tained that the mat­ter was a mi­nor dis­agree­ment be­tween the po­lice­man and the staff of the com­pany, the com­pany al­leged that the vic­tim, Ogun­dele, was ac­tu­ally dragged down from a pole in front of the for­mer IGP’s res­i­dence by the sergeant while per­form­ing his law­ful duty.

The Head, Cor­po­rate Com­mu­ni­ca­tions of the com­pany, God­win Ide­mu­dia, said that man­age­ment had of­fi­cially writ­ten to the of­fice of the In­spec­tor-Gen­eral of Po­lice, Ibrahim Idris, de­mand­ing for a thor­ough probe into the mat­ter. He stressed that at­tack on staff of the com­pany by uni­form men was be­com­ing one too many.

Ac­cord­ing to him, de­fault­ers in pay­ment of elec­tric­ity bills are usu­ally those who live in high­brow ar­eas and whose houses are guarded by heav­ily armed se­cu­rity men.

He ex­plained that on Oc­to­ber 19, 2017, the war against elec­tric­ity theft by Eko Elec­tric­ity Dis­tri­bu­tion Com­pany yielded fruits when the com­pany’s anti-en­ergy theft crew un­cov­ered an­other theft at Yomi of the gov­er­nor in 2019.

He also com­mented against the com­mis­sioner for openly sup­port­ing Gov­er­nor Umaru Al-Makura on face­book.

Some of the con­tri­bu­tions which landed the teenager in de­ten­tion read thus “TA’AL [Al-Makura’s nick­name] is al­ready de­clared as a win­ner in 2019, they can’t stop TA’AL to win 2019 sen­ate, Tanko Al-Makura is our best can­di­date in 2019.”

How­ever, the spe­cial Anti-Rob­bery Squad (SARS) of the state po­lice com­mand Mon­day af­ter­noon act­ing on the in­struc­tions of the com­mis­sioner ar­rested and de­tained Tab­ulo for in­sist­ing on face­book that the Tiv peo­ple in Nasarawa South Sen­a­to­rial District will vote mas­sively for Al-Makura for sen­ate in 2019, a de­vel­op­ment that did not go down well with the com­mis­sioner.

Shortly af­ter he was re­leased from de­ten­tion, Tab­ulo who is the com­mis­sioner’s kins­man said his only of­fence was his open dec­la­ra­tion for the sen­a­to­rial bid of the Es­tate, Ajah Lagos, un­der the Ibeju Busi­ness District.

Ide­mu­dia said that just like those who re­side at the for­mer In­spec­tor-Gen­eral of Po­lice home, the oc­cu­pants of the 60-flats es­tate had pre­tended not to be con­nected to the com­pany’s elec­tric­ity sup­ply net­work.

He said the es­tate was how­ever draw­ing sup­ply through an un­der­ground ca­ble that was con­nected to a ser­vice point in an un­oc­cu­pied one-storey build­ing op­po­site the es­tate.

Ac­cord­ing him, the spe­cial antienergy theft crew swung into ac­tion af­ter a tip-off from a whis­tle blower who in­formed the com­pany’s of­fi­cials on the en­ergy theft in the es­tate.

On the al­leged bru­tal­iza­tion of the staff, Ide­mu­dia said that the team went on a rev­enue gen­er­at­ing drive to re­cover “trapped” money.

He ex­plained that the house of the gov­er­nor against the wish of the com­mis­sioner.

“I never knew that SARS were trac­ing me all through un­til they ar­rested me and told me my of­fence that I com­mented on face­book, and that the ar­rest was on the or­der of the com­mis­sioner,” he ex­plained.

How­ever, when jour­nal­ists vis­ited the com­mis­sioner for com­ments, he re­gret­ted his ac­tion af­ter he dis­cov­ered that the per­son for­mer IGP was dis­cov­ered to owe a bill of N154, 693.85 stress­ing that the name on the bill was one Yusuf.

He said, “What we do is that any­time cus­tomers don’t re­spond and pay their bills, we go out with copies of their bills. When we get to their houses, we tell them what they owe and ask if they had made any pay­ment in the last 24 hours. If they can’t pro­duce any ev­i­dence of such, we dis­con­nect their elec­tric­ity.

“That was what we did in this case. We had two of our ve­hi­cles work­ing in the area on that day. On get­ting to the house around 12noon, a man came out and we asked for ev­i­dence of pay­ment be­cause we dis­cov­ered that the house owed over N154, 000. When he couldn’t pro­duce it, we said we would dis­con­nect the power. The man flared up.

“The mo­bile po­lice­man came out and while our of­fi­cial was dis­con­nect­ing the power from the pole, he or­dered him to come down. In fact, he dragged the of­fi­cial down and beat him up. In the process, the of­fi­cial sus­tained a frac­tured limb,” he added

But the Lagos State Po­lice Pub­lic Re­la­tions Of­fi­cer (PPRO), As­sis­tant Su­per­in­ten­dent of Po­lice (ASP), Olarinde Fa­mous-Cole, dis­missed the claim of the com­pany, say­ing that the staff did not sus­tain any bro­ken limb.

Though, he said that the mat­ter was be­ing in­ves­ti­gated, it was a mi­nor in­frac­tion be­tween the staff and the po­lice­man in ques­tion.

Dele Ogun­dele

Nasarawa State Com­mis­sioner of Po­lice, Muhammed Uba Kura

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