By Etuka Sunday
The Nigerian Police has arraigned a customer of Abuja Electricity Distribution Company (AEDC) Plc, Mr Abdulateef Mustafa before the Federal High Court sitting in Abuja for alleged theft of electricity through meter bypass.
The suspect, a middle aged man who resides at No. 16 Tema Street, Wuse Zone 6, Abuja, was accused of illegally consuming electricity after he had fiddled with two prepaid meters issued to him by the AEDC Plc, which was the nominal complainant in the matter.
The defendant, Mr. Mustafa was specifically alleged to have illegally consumed 1,464.2 kilowatt hours (Kw/h) for one month on each of the meters with numbers 62120102272 and 04185230101.
The Naira value of the consumption on each of the two meters is N309,509.1, which brings the total cost to N619,018.2.
The offence for which the accused person was charged-electricity theft-is contrary to Section 1 (10) of the Miscellaneous Offences Act, Cap M17 laws of the Federation of Nigeria 2014 and punishable under the same Section.
One of the 2-Count charges read against the accused person read: “That you, Mr. Abdulateef Mustafa, on or about the 26th of May, 2017, in Abuja, within the jurisdiction of this Honourable Court unlawfully disconnected, tampered with two energy meters, in your residence registered to your name.
To wit: energy meter number 04185230101 at your residence located at No. 16 Tema Street, Wuse Zone 6, Abuja and stole electricity to the tune of 1,464.2Kw/h for one month whose naira value is N309,509.1 which you then know or had reason to know was a criminal offence and that you thereby committed an offence contrary to Section 1(10) of the Miscellaneous Offences Act, Cap M17 laws of the Federation of Nigeria 2014 and punishable under the same Section.
The defendant pleaded not guilty to the charges preferred against him.
He was granted administrative bail by the presiding Judge, Honourable Justice Anwuli Chikere, and the matter was adjourned till May 24, 2018 for hearing.
It would be recalled that in May last year, the AEDC Plc and the Office of the Director of Public Prosecution (DPP) of the Federation signed an agreement for a partnership to fight electricity theft within AEDC’s area of operation.
The signing of the agreement followed the approval of a special task force for the investigation and prosecution of electricity theft cases under the Electric Power Sector Reform Act, 2005 by the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice.
The task force was inaugurated by the DPP of the Federation, Mr. Mohammed Umar, during a joint conference in Abuja.
Members of the task force were drawn from the Nigeria Police Force, Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC) and the DPPF’s Office, and were charged to commence work immediately by arresting and prosecuting electricity thieves across the AEDC Plc’s franchise area.