Osun traders protest, accuse IBEDC of fraud through estimated billing

Uba Group

BY TIMOTHY AGBOR, OSOGBO                                   

TRADERS and other office operators at the new Orisumbare Shopping Complex in Osogbo, Osun State, on Thursday, stormed the Osogbo office of the Ibadan Electricity Distribution Company, and protested against extortion through estimated billing by the officials of the company.

They alleged that the electricity company fraudulently inflated its electricity bills with the aim of extorting them.

The occupants of the government-owned complex blocked the entrance of the IBEDC headquarters in Osun and accused the electricity company of illegally altering its tariff twice without informing the management of the market.

The IBEDC, according to the occupants, had, some months ago, changed the tariff from 42 to 58 without notifying them and consequently, altered it from 58 to 61 on their transformer.

Chairman of the electricity committee of new Orisumbare, Oni Folorunsho, said, “What happened was that the transformer we are using seems to have been tampered with and we can not really say what happened.

“But the only thing I can see is that some months ago, the tariff was changed from 42 to 58 without our notice, likewise from 58 to 61. I had to call one of the marketers to complain to him, so the following month when the bill came, it was changed back to 58.”

“And now, suddenly, they changed it to 61 again, and that was why we went to their office to complain. There is a fraudulent act there, and I suspect the technical engineers that normally come to the transformer. They have done something there, which we don’t know, and that’s what resulted in the estimated billing,” he further alleged.

In his own lamentation, the Chairman of the complex, Ibrahim Khali, however, asked IBEDC to find a lasting solution to the transformer.

“We when to the IBEDC office last year, and 2 years ago. The same thing is just repeating itself, so we are tired of them. IBEDC is a killer in disguise. We don’t want to do anything with them again until the matter is resolved.

“We have written series of letters to them, we are no more writing anything. The ones that have been written before, nothing was done on them. They said we should write another one today. We are not writing anything again. They should come back to us and let us know what they have decided,” he said.

One of the occupants of the complex, who owns a chamber in the complex, Barrister Dawood Ajetunmobi, called the IBEDC to follow the position of the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) which stated that every customer should have a prepaid metre.

When contacted for reaction, the Regional Communication Officer, Osun Region, Kikelomo Owoeye, said there was a complaint by the Market Executives and some other members of New Orisumbare Ultra Modern Market who had come to lodge a complaint at the Ibadan Electricity Distribution Company, Osogbo Business Hub office.

“Meanwhile, the Business Hub Manager and the Technical Engineer attended to the Customers, explaining the details of the tariff rate and classification.

“However, the directive for change of tariff is from Nigeria Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) and there is no fraudulent manipulation on the account of the market which is on MD1 at present tariff rate of N61.33 on Band A with minimum supply of 20hrs per day,” Owoeye said.