The Civil Liberties Organisation, a pro-democracy organisation, has called the prolonged power outage in Abia State, caused by the Transmission Company of Nigeria’s severance of Aba Power from the national grid, a siege against national security.
According to reports, Aba Power, which delivers energy to nine of Abia State’s 17 local government areas, was disconnected from the country’s sole transmission network last Friday due to a N896,210,059.58 debt owed by Nigeria’s newest electrical distribution firm.
The CLO stated in a statement signed by its leader, Aloy Attah, that all of the other 11 DisCos established since 2013 owed far greater amounts, but none have been subjected to the treatment meted out to Aba Power because the Federal Government understands the far-reaching implications of putting any part of the country in complete darkness for even a day.
“Far from allowing any part of Nigeria to be plunged into darkness,” he continued, “the government has been subsidising the DisCos with a fortune, despite the fact that they are private entities.”
“The Federal Government alone subsidised distribution companies with N120 billion in 2022.”
He argued that it was scandalous that the Market Operator, an arm of the TCN owned by the Federal Government, “didn’t mind putting a whole state in darkness, including the Nigerian Army, the Nigerian Navy, the Nigeria Police Force, the Department Security Service, the Civil Defence and National Security Organisation in Abia State which rely on constant electricity supply to discharge their onerous duties to the Nigerian people in a state with grave security challenges”.
Attah pointed out it was a fundamental contradictory step taken by the TCN over the payment of statutory fees to Federal Government agencies by Aba Power.
He revealed that while the TCN in a letter with reference number TCN-MO-003-APL-049-VOL2-202 dated April 30, 2023, asked Aba power to clear its debt within one month, the company wrote another letter with reference number TCN-MO-003-EDTSP-C37—VOL7-2023 on the same day to the Market Operator directing it to yank off Aba Power from the transmission network within 24 hours.
According to the CLO, “It is not fortuitous but rather a well-calculated, deliberate action that the disconnection started not just on a Friday but also on a public holiday which saw Nigerians out of their usual businesses till the following Monday.
“The TCN and the Market Operator did not allow Muslims to celebrate the annual Eid el Fitri feast, after one month of fasting, body mortification and intense spiritual exercises”.
The CSO expressed satisfaction that Aba Power has been making good efforts to discharge its financial obligations to both suppliers and government agencies as well as customers.
“Even though it, in legal terms, took over the ownership of the Aba Ringfence in February, last year, it did not take over full management until last September when it began to collect revenue from customers.
“For six months it provided electricity without receiving a naira and still paid staff salaries during this period.
“We are also satisfied that it paid last month N500m to the Niger Delta Power Holding Company and N50m to the TCN.
“What is more, we are satisfied that it raised power supply in the Aba Power Ring-fenced Area from 25 megawatts in September to 80MW last February, though there has been a decrease since March owing to the Niger Delta Power Holding Company’s decision not to provide credit anymore in response to the unwillingness of many individuals and organisations in the area not to pay as and when due for power supply”.
The CLO noted that, unlike Aba Power’s performance record, many DisCos do not meet up to 15% of their obligations to government bodies and electricity suppliers.
The CLO ended by calling on President Muhammadu Buhari to direct the Ministry of Power to restore electricity to the Abia people and also probe the Market Operator and the TCN for the abrupt electricity disconnection.
“Aba is Nigeria’s manufacturing capital and a most important commercial centre. So, the disruption of national security is at the heart of the TCN action”.
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