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Special Report | In Kwara, IBEDC Forcing Residents To Donate Multi-million Naira Equipment, Violating Consumer Rights

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Special Report | In Kwara, IBEDC Forcing Residents To Donate Multi-million Naira Equipment, Violating Consumer Rights

The law emphasises that it is “not the responsibility of electricity customers or communities to buy, replace, or repair electricity transformers,

In this report, The Informant247’s Adisa Jaji-Azeez reveals how the Ibadan Electricity Distribution Company (IBEDC) fails to address the needs of its consumers and also violates the regulatory framework guiding its operation.

The residents of Akuo/Gaa communities, located a few kilometres away from Kwara State Polytechnic Ilorin, have lived without electricity for more than a decade.

Speaking with The Informant247, Isiak Opeyemi, the Chairman of Akuo/Gaa Development Association and a small-scale business owner who makes local wears, lamented the failure of IBEDC to live up to expectations.

His business, like that of many in the communities, has suffered greatly due to the lack of electricity.

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“Our transformer has been faulty since 2021. When we approached the IBEDC officials, they informed us that we need to get another transformer. They told us that it’s not their responsibility to provide transformers to communities; that the state government is in the best position to do so,” Opeyemi recalled.

Pressed and concerned by the darkness that has affected their livelihoods, the communities later sought an alternative solution to the issue of the transformer.

“In 2021, we met an Engineer who suggested repairing the faulty transformer. The community had to contribute a sum of N1.2m to repair it,” he said.

The 200KV transformer, which was repaired, later became faulty three months after.

IBEDC forcing residents to donate multi-million naira transformers

After several efforts to repair the transformer and also informing the government through the Ministry of Energy about the electricity challenges, the community eventually resorted to acquiring a new one.

“In December 2023, the community, with individual effort, paid the sum of N8.8 million to De-Anguson Electrical (Nig) Ltd to acquire a new 630KV transformer. To energise the transformer, another sum of N388,300 was paid for other materials.

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“After acquiring the new transformer, we approached the Baboko district office of IBEDC for installation, and we were told that we have to make an official request to donate the transformer to IBEDC, after which the transformer can only be installed and connected to the grid,” said Opeyemi.

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For Kabir, a resident of Ilorin West Residential Layout, Baba Ode, the story is the same. He expressed dissatisfaction with IBEDC’s response to power outage complaints from their end.

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Citing an incident involving a faulty transformer, he said that IBEDC’s failure to address the issue later prompted the community to contribute N70,000 per household.

“In August 2022, our transformer developed a fault. Despite contacting IBEDC, they didn’t respond promptly. When they eventually did, they advised us to procure another transformer,” he said.

Following IBEDC’s recommendation, the community later decided to purchase a 500KV transformer for a sum of N6m.

After the acquisition of the transformer, we approached IBEDC for the purpose of energising it, but they said that we would have to donate it before they could connect it to the grid.

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The situation is not different in Ita-Kudima in the Ilorin West local government area of Kwara State.

Sheu Imam, the Chairman of Imale in Ita-Kudima community, recounted how the community had to self-fund the repair of their transformer.

Sheu decried how IBEDC officials have consistently avoided taking responsibility for repairs.

“In October 2023, our transformer had a fault, and we laid a formal complaint at the Baboko district. When the officials of IBEDC came to conduct a test on the transformer, we had to provide them with a generator and other equipment, which I don’t think is ideal,” he said.

He continued, “We would later have to contribute about five hundred thousand naira to rectify the transformer.”

In another incident, which occurred when cable theft resulted in a loss of almost N1.2m on May 27, 2022, Sheu recalled the community also bore the financial implication of fixing the transformer, even with the guidance of the IBEDC officials on where to get necessary materials.

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Another resident, Abdulkabir AbdulRasaq, lamented a situation where the community had to pay for the transport expenses of IBEDC officials before they would come to check on their faulty transformer.

In Shooto community, residents have lived in darkness for over a year due to the failure of IBEDC to repair their transformers.

Habeeb AbdulRazaq, a resident, told The Informant247 that their transformer had developed a fault since January 24, 2023.

“We laid a formal complaint regarding the fault to the IBEDC Ilorin Branch, and despite the fact that the community provided the means for transportation for the officials during testing, there was no action taken after the conducted test,” said Habeeb, who is the Secretary of the Shooto Youth Development Association (SYDA).

Habeeb stated that the IBEDC officials, despite giving assurance after conducting a test on the faulty transformers, never got back to the community.

He said, “After staying about three months without any action from IBEDC, we sought the expertise of an Engineer who told us that the repair of the transformer would cost us about N 650,000.”

Meanwhile, at the time of this interview, Habeeb said the residents are still contributing funds to get the transformer repaired.

IBEDC Violates Laws

The National Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) prevents electricity distribution companies from forcing customers to buy or repair electricity assets as a condition for the restoration of power supply.

In its consumer rights and obligations section, the law emphasises that it is “not the responsibility of electricity customers or communities to buy, replace, or repair electricity transformers, poles, and related equipment used in the supply of electricity”.

According to the commission, some of the obligations of electricity consumers include the monthly payment of power consumed, “vigilant protection of electrical installation, cordiality towards electricity workers, ensuring that metering and other electrical equipment within your premises belonging to the DisCo are not tampered with or bypassed, notifying the DisCo serving you of any tampering or bypass of electrical installations, notifying the DisCo serving you of any outstanding electricity bill before moving into new premises”.

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The commission also stated that the repair or replacement of faulty electrical infrastructure should be fixed within 48 hours of official complaints. It, however, noted that where the DisCo is unable to “speedily replace the faulty transformer, residents may go into discussions with the company and agree on the terms of the replacement of the affected transformer if they wish to assume the responsibility of the company”.

IBEDC Reacts

When The Informant247 visited the Kwara State Electricity Distribution Company (IBEDC) office in Ilorin, the Brand officer, Mr. Gbenga, said, “We are not ignoring consumers’ needs. There is a need to raise awareness about regulatory processes, a task we are actively on through various radio activities.”

Noting that complaints normally undergo a thorough process, he said that some communities, due to impatience, seek assistance from licensed contractors who were licensed by the Federal Ministry of Mining.

He stated that there are some ad hoc staff, who IBEDC directly compensates and with their relationships with licensed contractors and communities, may not go through the formal complaint process.

He further stated that refunds are only meant for communities that formally submit complaints and sign a memorandum of understanding with IBEDC.

“IBEDC doesn’t request donations for transformers that go through the official process. It’s not acceptable to procure a transformer independently and then ask IBEDC to energise it without following the normal procedure,” he said.

For donations, he added that the company can only energise a transformer acquired through the proper process, specifically the one that involved IBEDC from the beginning.

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