19 September 2011, Sweetcrude, Lagos- The Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) has outlined the rights of electricity consumers in line with the United Nations General Assembly resolution 39 of 1985 on consumer protection.
In a document released in Lagos, NERC’s Assistant General Manager in charge of Legal, Licensing and Enforcement, Mr. Chijioke Obi, said the rights were derived from the Charter of Consumer Rights, which was issued by Consumers International in 1982.
Obi stated that part of the statutory functions of the commission was the enforcement of consumer rights to ensure that the interests of consumers were protected at all times, adding that Section 80 of the Electric Power Sector Reform Act of 2005 provides instruments for consumer protection.
He identified some of the instruments to include customer service standards; customer complaints handling standards and procedures; codes of practice to assist special needs customers and procedures; procedures to assist customers with difficulty in paying bills; information to customers and their manner of dissemination; and procedures for disconnecting non-paying customers.
He listed consumer rights to include the right to safety; right to basic needs; right to be informed; right to choose; right to be heard; and the right to redress. Others include the right to consumer education; right to a healthy environment; right to electric service; right to accurate metering; right to refund of over billings; right to properly installed meter; right to prompt investigation of complaints; and the right to transparent billing.
Obi also identified other rights to include, right to information, scheduled power interruptions; right to due process prior to disconnection of electric service; right to a notice prior to disconnection; right to prompt reconnection of electric service upon payment; and the right to file complaints before NERC.
“You have the right to safety and that is why the commission has put in place, safety codes in electricity system. You have the right to consumer education. The distribution company is obliged to inform you that they are going to carry out repairs in the neighbourhood and that there is going to be no light for 24 hours. It is your right to know that. It is your right to know how to use electricity safely and cheaply,” he said.
He charged consumers to be vigilant in order to ensure that electric installations were protected at all times.
“If you see anybody tampering with electrical installation, you are supposed to call the law enforcement agents, if you cannot arrest the person, yourself,” he also said.