De Choice Shopping Mall, Uyo.
Story by Dili Utomi.
A massive energy theft and meter by-pass has been uncovered by the technical team of the Port Harcourt Electricity Distribution PLC (PHED) at De Choice Shopping Mall, one of the company’s customers in Uyo, Akwa Ibom State.
Prior to this discovery, different technical teams from PHED had visited the customer on several occassions to check the integrity of their installed meter, but they were denied access into the premises. However, a team finally gained access into the premises with the assistance of law enforcement agents on the 15th of 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 installed meter.
Upon further assessment to determine the cause of the load imbalance, it was discovered that besides the central change-over panel, De Choice Shopping Mall with an intent to defraud PHED had installed another change-over panel where the bulk of their energy was diverted from the meter. To further lay credence to the discovery, PHED team switched off the central change over 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 De Choice Shoping Mall from PHED amounts to over Twenty Five Million, (N25,000,000.00 )
The MD/CEO PHED Dr. Henry Ajagbawa decried the massive energy theft discovered at De Choice 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, De Choice 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 De Choice Shopping Mall were arraigned at the Magistrate Court, Uyo, Akwa Ibom State where they are being prosecuted on a two count charge.
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