The Director-General, Consumer Protection Council (CPC), Mr Babatunde Irukera says any company that abuses the rights of consumers violates the law.
He said this on Saturday in Bwari, a satellite town in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) during a Town Hall meeting with residents on electricity distribution in the country.
Irukera said electricity was an essential public utility and should be recognised as such because every citizen deserved to enjoy the facility.
He also said that Nigerians had lived for a very long time with poor power supply and were dissatisfied, and called for improved supply.
“The greatest complaint in the power value chain is not whether enough power is generated or transmitted, but more of what happens in the distribution component of the value chain.
“People complain a lot more about the responsiveness of the distribution company than whether they have power or not.
“People complain a lot more about whether the bills they are getting truly reflect their consumption or whether they are arbitrary, unreasonable and lacking any fundamental or rational support for how they are arrived at.
“People complain a lot more about being responsible and paying their bills yet they are being disconnected because they belong to a community or a group.’’
He added that if customers who were paying their bills were disconnected alongside those who did not, they would be discouraged from paying.
Irukera also said that power was really about people, adding that people would only remain with the service they got for as long as they did not have another option.
The director-general noted that when people pay reluctantly for services, then it has become social extortion.
Irukera told consumers that they had certain responsibilities toward the companies, adding that they should pay their bills responsibly.
He also said that electricity theft which was carried out by consumers was a grave concern to both the regulator and the operator and a crime that was against the law.
The CPC boss urged consumers to exercise all available complaints channel when they encountered any problem.
Dr Moses Arigu, the Commissioner, Consumer Affairs, Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC), said that the agency had established a three-tier complaint mechanism to ensure that customers’ complaints were resolved amicably.
He also said that due to many complaints from customers on estimated billing, it approved a Meter Access Provider (MAP) regulation.
According to him, the aim is to ensure that the metering targets set for the Distribution Companies (DISCOs) by the commission is met.
He said the regulation which would take effect from April 3, intends to see the set of meters provided procured within 120 days from the effective date of the regulation.
Arigu expressed the hope that this would provide a lasting solution to the issue of metering and estimated billing problems.
Mr Willaim Metiele of the Nigerian Electricity Management Services Agency (NEMSA), said that all customers should ensure that the meters being installed for them had NEMSA seals to signify that it had been tested and certified for use by it.
He also said that the organisation should be reached on 09097555430 if customers noticed that the meters being installed for them do not have the seals.
Customers at the meeting complained of over billing, poor power supply and group disconnection even for those of them that paid their bills.
Some others said that they had to collectively buy their transformers as the ones promised by the DISCOs was not forth coming, adding that even when they did, electricity supply was epileptic at best.
All the organisations present, including the Abuja Electricity Distribution Company (AEDC), promised to look into all the complaints and find lasting solutions to them. (NAN)