The Special Investigation and Prosecution Task Force on Electricity Offences, constituted by the Federal Ministry of Justice, has arrested seven suspects over offences of prepaid metre cloning, metre theft and vandalism in Kaduna State.
The task force which was inaugurated in Kaduna last year to assist in the fight against electricity offences paraded the suspects at its office at the Federal Secretariat, Kaduna.
The team leader of the task force, ASP Aliyu Bamali, said the suspects had cloned at least 13 metres, adding that one Iliya Maigari was arrested for working with one Alex Zamani, a technician, to clone metres or transfer memory from one metre to another.
ASP Bamali explained that another suspect, Joseph Steven, is a technician who has a programmer which he recently ordered from Singapore for his criminal activities, adding that Gambo Sa'idu, an expert on metre theft, was responsible for sourcing the metres while Solomon Luka and Monday Joseph are said to be agents who seek out customers, and Francis Amado is also a part of the gang.
ASP Bamali said the workshop of the suspects was raided following a tip-off from a medical doctor who was a victim of their scam. He said two metres were used to clone about 13 so that only the original metre owner is able to vend while others enjoy electricity free of charge.
"We have arrested people for selling fake tokens in other states we have visited as we investigate electricity offences but this is the first time we are arresting people for metre cloning. I have not heard of metre cloning until this particular case," he said.
Earlier, the Chief Marketing and Revenue Officer for Kaduna Electricity Distribution Company (KEDC), Abubakar Jimeta, described their action as a new kind of sophisticated crime, adding that: "We are seeing a situation whereby one metre can be cloned into 10 different metres. What that means is that, instead of 10 people to be vending, only one person will vend."
The main suspect, Alex Zamani, who said he is into computer repairs did not deny committing the crime but said he had only cloned the specific number of metres that were paraded by the task force.