29 October 2015, Lagos – At least 300 residents of Yotomi Golden Estate, in the Ofada, Mowe area of Ogun State, have been thrown into complete darkness.
They alleged that Olanipekun, who was annoyed with the protesters, sent officers to disconnect their power and put them in total darkness.
The residents, who spoke with PUNCH Metro on Tuesday, asked for an urgent intervention in the matter and the restoration of their electricity.
The women leader of the community, Mrs. Olaide Sobogun, said the problem of poor power supply had been on for more than four years.
She added that the problem escalated in September, 2015 when the unit consumption per household suddenly moved up to 200 units.
She said, “The Ibadan Electricity Distribution Company has put us in perpetual darkness because we protested after they brought crazy bills to us.
“They billed each consumer N4, 000 a month ago and we held a peaceful protest at the front of our community that they should reduce the tariff. Their officer said he was only a marketer and he directed us to their Owode office.
“When we got there, their manager said he knew we didn’t consume more than N1, 500 worth of power per month, but that he had a target of N11.8m.
“He said he would have to get the money from the consumers, and it was unfortunate we had to bear the burden. He said it was an order from the Sagamu district, and if we could not pay, we should go back to our villages.
“Before we knew what was happening, some officers came to the estate and disconnected our electricity from the source without informing us or giving us any letter to warn us.”
A resident, Mr. Oduberu Oluwakemi, explained to PUNCH Metrothat before the protest, the community hardly got electricity supply.
Oluwakemi said the people in the community had been suffering for a long time, adding that most residents relocated from Lagos State to the area due to harsh economic conditions.
He said, “Most of us here left Lagos because of high cost of living. Here, we pay just N2, 500 for a two-bedroomed flat a month. So, tell me, how reasonable is it for somebody to be paying N2,500 as rent and N4,000 for electricity? The IBEDC has turned us to a cash cow.
“We get power supply for a maximum of seven days in a month. Neighbouring villages, which pay far less money get more power supply.”
Oluwakemi, who claimed to spend N550 on transport to town every day, lamented that many of the people in the village were low income earners and deserved better treatments.
Adebayo Devis, a bricklayer, told PUNCH Metro that life was becoming more difficult for the residents.
Our correspondent was shown three letters that the residents had written to IBEDC.
The letters, dated September 28, October 9, and 23, 2015, decried the alleged exploitation of the residents and the fraud being perpetrated through a disproportionate estimated billing regime foisted on the community.
The October 23 letter detailed a breakdown of the Yotomi Estate electricity bill.
In January, the residents were billed N1, 382 for 47 units per family, which rose to 71 units of N1, 768 in February.
After a protest action, the bill reduced to 15 units in May at N866. But the bill took a sharp increase from June and rose to 200 units in September at N4, 240.
A senior citizen, Mrs. Oyedotun Gbenuade, said despite the high fee, they were always deprived of power supply, even while villages around had electricity.
She said, “I use only a deep freezer, a single bulb and a fan and yet, they say I should pay N4, 240 every month!”
Another resident, Pastor Akinrinmade Tunde, said the electricity official had advised them to get prepaid metres.
He, however, added that the people could not afford the N24, 000 demanded for the meters, and appealed that the electricity tariffs be reduced pending when the dwellers would be able to get the money.
He said, “We have written to the National Electricity Distribution Commission, the headquarters of the IBEDC, and even copied the state governor and this is 17 days after, and we have yet to get any response.
“Instead, the power company is telling us to prepare ourselves, that our next bill will be N6, 000. We are not asking for free electricity, the question we want to ask is, what changed between May, when we were using 15 units and September, when it rose to 200 units?”
In his reaction, the manager of the Owode unit of the IBEDC, Olanipekun, said the residents chased away the officials sent to distribute electricity bills to the community.
He said, “They drove away our officers that were supposed to distribute the bills and this was despite using our elecstricity. They haven’t paid the September bill. We asked them to get prepaid meters so that nobody would be cheated but they refused. They said we should take our electricity.
“Yet, they continue to use power without paying and there is no way we can continue to allow that. They have written so many letters and copied me and obviously I am awaiting instruction from my superiors.
“If they are ready to sit with us and talk on how they will pay their outstanding bills, then we will restore their power.”