CHARGES: PHCN OWES CONSUMERS N378BN - GROUP
By KUNLE KALEJAYE
The Coalition For Social Equality, a non-governmental organisation has revealed that the illegal imposition and collection of Meter Maintenance Charge from consumers by the Power Holding Company of Nigeria, PHCN, has amounted to about N378 billion.
The maintenance charge was introduced in the late 1990s to aid the defunct National Electric Power Authority, NEPA, to maintain consumers' meters and installation of new ones.
In a letter addressed to the Minister of Power, Prof Bart Nnaji dated 6th February 2012 which was obtained by Vanguard, the Chairman of the group Mr. Frank Oluku, a charter accountant, urged the minister to cause the utility company to refund the N378 billion.
Both the minister and the Chairman of the Nigeria Electricity Regulatory Commission NERC, Dr. Sam Amadi, had earlier described the maintenance charges as illegal.
The group said: 'We are however appalled that no action has so far been initiated by your office on the question of refund of the sum of N378billion or $2.5 billion dollars wrongly and illegally collected from impoverished Electricity Consumer in the country beginning from 1998 till November 2011.
'It is currently estimated that there are over 4.5 million registered electricity consumers in Nigeria who have continued to pay this illegal charge since its introduction in the late 90s which is only three per cent of the projected population of Nigerians put at 150 million. We have therefore assumed that only three out of every 100 Nigerian receive PHCN bills and pay MMC.'