29 January 2013

Nigeria: NERC Moves to Clampdown On Electricity Thieves, Errant Operators

An Act to severely punish guilty offenders and perpetrators of crime against the smooth operation of Nigeria's Electricity Supply Industry (NESI) is currently being fine-tuned for onward presentation to the National Assembly for consideration and passage, the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) has disclosed.

The proposed Act tagged: Electricity Offences Act will prevent incoming owners and operators of various successor companies of Power Holding Company of Nigeria (PHCN) to engage in illegal activities that could be injurious to the operations of NESI.

The Act when promulgated, will seek to address unwholesome practices such as illegal diversion and misappropriation of fund, theft of and other illegal practices with regards to procurement of electrical installations and assets in NESI. It will also serve as a measure to further checkmate errant operators in the sector going into a post-privatisation era.

Chairman of NERC, Dr. Sam Amadi, stated at a media briefing in Abuja that the "Electricity Offences Act is currently being fine-tuned by NERC and other stakeholders in the sector".

He said the proposed enactment was part of the post-privatisation instruments being initiated by the commission to ensure that new owners of PHCN assets and consumers alike adhere to laid-down rules in the sector.

Amadi explained that the rule would also punish anybody who tampers with electricity facilities across the country, adding that the law when passed through relevant authorities and the legislature would become a binding law on all stakeholders in Nigeria's power sector.

"We are currently finalising a provision, the Electricity Offences Act which will soon be passed to the National Assembly for ratification before a presidential assent to make it law in the Nigerian electricity sector. The commission has consulted widely with stakeholders in the sector and it has become imperative to in addition to the provisions of the EPSR, formulate a law that will take care of various electricity offences that constitute injuries to the operation of the sector.

"The Act when passed into law will ensure that operators and consumers alike adhere to laid down rules in the sector and in the case of any abuse of such laws guiding the sector, the offender will have to be penalised for such abuse. We cannot efficiently run a sector where people willingly abuse existing rules that should serve as codes of conduct in the sector and that is why the Commission has taken the initiative to bring into force such law," he said.

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