CPC begins probe of Discos for ‘outrageous’ billings


The Consumer Protection Council (CPC) has set up a panel to investigate Electricity Distribution Companies (DISCOs) in Nigeria over series of allegations bothering on breach of consumers rights.

Speaking at the opening sitting of the investigation panel yesterday in Abuja, the Director General of CPC, Mrs. Dupe Atoki, stated that the Council has been inundated with an influx of consumer complaints on sundry issues, which bother on the abuse of the rights of Nigerian electricity consumers.

This, according to her, informed why the DISCOs were summoned to appear before the panel for investigation and possible resolutions. Atoki stated that the complaints include but not limited to; indiscriminate increase in electricity bills, non-supply of metres to consumers several months after payment, irregular disconnection and estimated billing for non-metred and consumers with post-payment metres, which are allegedly not read regularly.

Other complaints are non-supply of paid infrastructure requirements like transformers, electric poles, and cables to some business units and collection of fixed charges even when there is no power supply and lack of proper consumer complaints redress mechanism.

The CPC boss hinted that the investigation panel is also expected to ascertain from the respective DISCOs their level of compliance with relevant regulations, guidelines and directives issued by regulators in the electricity sector which, according to her, is in line with section 12 of the CPC Act, which provides for the prosecution of anyone who contravenes any enactment, whatsoever, for protection of the consumer.

Atoki expressed dismay that two years after the privatisation of electricity distribution in the country, consumers are still groaning under almost all the issues that existed in the old order.

While assuring that CPC is approaching the investigation without any form of premeditated notion on the operations of the DISCOs, she therefore enjoined the electricity companies to give full cooperation to the investigation panel, which barring any unforeseen circumstance is expected to submit its report in four weeks. “CPC is aware that the electricity industry is a whole gamut that comprises generation, transmission as well as distribution activities. However, electricity distribution companies are the ones directly involved in the provision of power to end users.

“We reckon with measures being put in place by the electricity industry regulators to ensure effective service delivery. However, no amount of work in the industry will be meaningful, if consumers continue to groan under the lack of value for money, as is presently the case,” Atoki stated. In their separate reactions, the representatives of the various DISCOs in the country either confirmed or debunked some of the allegations.

Reacting to some of the complaints on behalf of Abuja Electricity Distribution Company, its Executive Director, Regulatory and Stakeholder’s Affairs, Mr. Abimbola Odubiyi, said: “There is no outrageous billing, there is nothing like that. Please let’s get that right.

There might be mistake in billing but nothing like outrageous bill and we have always told our customers that if they have issues with their bills, they should come forward with their complaints and we will do our best to resolve them.”

As regards complaints on estimated billing, Odubiyi said: “We do estimation according to the methodology given to us by the regulator. If customers have issues on that, they can complain to the regulator and as part of measures to ensure ease of payment for customers, we now unified vending system; we have already engaged third party vendors, now our customers can begin to pay via POS (point of service), internet and the rest.”

Eko, Ibadan, Port Harcourt, Jos, Yola and Benin Distributions Companies all sent delegates to the panel. The investigation panel, which is headed by CPC’s Director of Legal Services, Emmanuel Ataguba, is expected to submit its report in four weeks’ time.

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