The Gowon Estate Undertaking of the Ikeja Electric has cut off power supply to seven streets in the area in protest against the alleged manhandling of one of its officials by a customer.
PUNCH Metro learnt that the IE officials had vowed not to reconnect the 5th Avenue, Redeemer’s Close, Fola Ogundana Street, Prince Anisere Street, Alhaji Afoke Street, Wole Omosho Street and Ajayi Street for six months so as to serve as a deterrent to other customers.
A member of the Harmony Community Development Association, which oversees the affairs of the seven streets, Lawrence Akpobor, said the residents discovered two weeks ago that the power firm had not supplied electricity to the area for a whole day.
Akpobor noted that they thought that it was the usual outage, but that when it extended to the second day, members of the CDA and some landlords went to the IE undertaking on Gowon Estate to enquire about what had happened to the power supply.
According to him, the officials told them that some IE personnel went to a house on the 5th Avenue to evaluate the residents’ billing, but one of them was allegedly manhandled by the occupants.
He added that apart from disconnecting the affected streets from the 33KVA high-tension line, the firm also shut down the transformer.
Akpobor explained, “When we did not have electricity supply the next day, we thought it was the usual switching of power on and off. It was not until we went to their office to ask why we did not have power tha6t they told us that one of their workers was beaten at a particular house on the 5th Avenue.
“Later they told us that the matter was beyond them and directed us to the IE Alausa head office for a resolution. We met one Ayeni there, who advised us to write a letter of undertaking assuring the firm that such an incident would not reoccur if they reconnected us.
“We wrote the letter but they have not given us any definitive answer as they keep promising us that they will restore power supply to us day after day,” Akpobor said.
The Chairman of the association, Sunday Odetuga, said the IE officials had with a particular house in the area and not the entire community.
He stated that the building used to be a hotel, but had been converted to a residential building, adding that the power firm had continued sending bills to the owner of the house as if he was still using hospitality business.
Odetuga said, “The IE disconnected us from the national grid on the pretext that a member of our community fought one of its workers when they came here for a routine check. To be candid with you, the community does not have a problem with the firm.
“The house, which they have an issue with, is on the 5th Avenue; the landlord does not live there anymore. He left this community a long time ago. When he was here, he used the house for a commercial purpose but later converted it to residential apartments.
“The IE continued to bill him as if he is still using the house for a commercial purpose. The man wrote several letters to the firm that he was no longer using the house for a commercial purpose.
“I saw copies of the letters he wrote to the firm. The man was unable to pay the bills the firm brought to him, which had accumulated to over N900,000. From what I saw, he was only able to pay N106,000.
“There was no fight and nobody beat any of the IE officials. It was one of the tenants, who told them when they went to disconnect the house that he would deal with them. There was no physical contact, even though we apologised to them in one of the letters we wrote to the firm in order to allow peace to reign.
“Before this case, we asked them to supply us with another transformer. The current from the existing transformer is low because of overload.”
In one of the letters that the community wrote to IE, it accused the Head of the Gowon Estate Undertaking and the Manager of the supervising body in Ponle, Akowonjo, one Williams, of inefficiency, negligence and conspiracy to incite a breach of peace in the community.
The Head of Corporate Affairs, IE, Felix Ofulue, faulted the community’s claims, adding that one of the firm’s workers was beaten up by a member of the community during a routine check.
“It was not a misunderstanding; our worker was beaten up. When the life of our worker is threatened in a community, we withdraw our services to that community,” Ofulue stated.