Christmas and New Year for some residents of Area A Extension, Nyanya in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) Abuja, was celebrated without the luxury of electricity. Not due to the fact that the Abuja Electricity Distribution Company did not generously supply them with power, but because some hoodlums felt they needed the people’s pre-paid meter more. CHIKA MEFOR and MBAEGBULAM KELECHI PRINCE report
Pre-paid meters of many residents in the area have suddenly begun to disappear, while they peacefully sleep at night. It has become a frequent occurrence.
Residents who spoke with LEADERSHIP Weekend stated that the thieves were so determined to do their deeds that they do not hesitate to steal the pre-paid meters even when there is power.
“We were all sleeping around 2am on Friday, some weeks ago when suddenly our source went off,” Mr Henry Mbaegbulam, one of the residents narrated. “We thought it was the usual AEDC taking the light. We didn’t know it was something more serious.”
He added they went about their normal business the next day and waited patiently for AEDC, as they thought, to restore the light.
“We later noticed that our neighbours had light. Initially, I was thinking it was generator but there was no sound emanating from there. That is when I came to realise that something was wrong,” he said.
Something was definitely wrong as Henry discovered when he went to check at the prepaid meter only to discover to his shock that the meter was no more. Henry and many of the residents have their prepaid meters hung on an electricity pole, outside the compound, giving the dare devil thieves free access to them.
According to the residents, even though the pre-paid meters were on the poles outside, it isn’t so easy to get the meters as whoever was stealing them needed a ladder to reach them.
“The persons doing this are always prepared. They stealthily bring a ladder. Climb and collect the meter, come down quietly, carry their ladder again and walk away,” one of the residents who pleaded anonymity stated.
The stealing of these meters have always been in the dead of the night and the unsuspecting victims usually think it was power failure when it happens, only to realise the theft when they wake up.
“When this thing happened, the food in my refrigerator got spoilt. And for us to get electricity again, we will either hustle to get another meter or apply for the estimated billing,” Chinelo Onuoha, another affected resident lamented.
The affected residents stated that when they reported to the AEDC, they were asked to apply for the estimated billing pending when they could get another meter.
“I know people who are using estimated bills. They complained a lot about how high it is. I don’t want to go to that. That means I need to wait until we get another pre-paid meter or when the thief that is doing this is caught,” she added.
That prayer appeared to have been answered as one of the victims who went to AEDC to complain about the theft, overheard a young man, recharging a meter bearing the name of her landlord.
“She was able to get his number and called,” narrated Henry feeling relieved. “She tricked him into coming to her house to repair her meter because she had found out that the young man was working in an installation company. He actually went to the lady’s compound. There he was apprehended and asked to disclose where he got the name and number to recharge the meter. He stated that a young man named, Wisdom had given him the meter.
“He was handed over to the police where he was interrogated. He has so far produced two of the missing meters. He was later released on bail but was given a week to produce the other meters and also the main culprit.”
Henry however said that one week has elapsed and nothing has been heard from the police.
Efforts made to see the Divisional Police Officer (DPO) of the division before filling this report proved abortive.
However, LEADERSHIP Weekend gathered that many of the residents who are still lucky to have their pre-paid meters have opted to bring in the meters inside their houses in order to safeguard it from being stolen.
“I am not taking chances,” Ekene Okereke, one of the residents said. “This is why we have hurriedly worked towards bringing the meter inside our house. Getting the meter is a tough deal and we can’t lose the one we have.”
Area A Extension Nyanya are supplied power six hour on and six hours off. The residents hope that security in the area will be strengthened so that they will be able to enjoy the ‘little’ power given to them by AEDC.
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