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IBEDC dissociates self from Unistar prepaid meter sale

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Ojo Peter, Ibadan

Ibadan Electricity Distribution Company (IBEDC) has dissociated itself from the activities of some agents involved in the sale and installation of the defunct Unistar prepaid meters within its franchise areas.

In a statement issued and signed by the chief operating officer (COO), Engr. John Ayodele, the company which prides itself as a customer-centric organisation, said it was committed to metering all its customers through the current National Mass Metering Program (NMMP) approved by the federal government.

According to Ayodele, IBEDC stopped the sales of the Unsitar meters to customers since 2014 in compliance with the directive of the National Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC).

He added that the Association of the Electrical Installer of Nigeria (AEIPON) that continue to promote the sale and installation of the Unistar meter is not in any way affiliated to IBEDC, nor does it represent the interest of the company.

The statement reads “The attention of the management of Ibadan Electricity Distribution Company Plc (IBEDC) has been drawn to the activities of some unscrupulous agents operating within our franchise on the sale and installation of the defunct Unistar Prepaid meters. The management, therefore, wishes to state the following facts categorically:

“IBEDC stopped the sales of the Unsitar meters to customers since 2014 in compliance with the directive of the National Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC). To this end, any customer who purchased the Unistar meter after 2014, did not buy from IBEDC, neither do such customers pay for electricity used on those meters to IBEDC whenever they vend.

“The Management of Unistar Hi-Tech Systems Limited, the manufacturer of the meters in a public disclaimer on the pages of the Punch newspaper of 14 June 2021 said, it has discontinued the production and the sale of such meters since 2014 in line with NERC’s directive.

“The Association of the Electrical Installer of Nigeria (AEIPON) that continue to promote the sale and installation of the Unistar meter is not in any way affiliated to IBEDC, nor does it represent the interest of the company. It will be recalled that the same Association in 2017, took IBEDC to court, praying the court to compel the company to absorb the illegally sold and installed Unistar meters for some of our customers at Osun State.

“The court judgement on the case mentioned above (Prince Anthony Atayero JP & 2 ORS v. IBEDC & Anor) noted that section 81 of the ESPR Act in its opinion only binds NERC’s approved manufacturers, importers etc. and that IBEDC is at liberty to choose from any of the meter providers approved by NERC. Also, relying on the provision of Regulation 7 of the Electrical Installation Regulation, a subsidiary of EPSR Act, which provides that no electrical installation shall commence until a written permit has been obtained from the electricity supply authority, except where the supplier is the consumer of electricity generated.

“Consequently, the court resolved this question in favour of IBEDC, as the plaintiffs failed to prove or show evidence that the said Unistar meters installed in IBEDC’s network was with its permission or consent. The Court also held that because the meters were installed in IBEDC’s network illegally, it constitutes economic sabotage.

“Despite the judgment of the Federal High Court, the Association of the Electrical Installer of Nigeria (AEIPON) in 2020, through a legal firm N.O. Folorunsho & Co wrote a letter, contesting IBEDC’s rights to disconnect illicit meters within its network and requested to install Unistar meters to customers. Our Legal Department in response to the letter, reinstated the court’s ruling in the case referenced above and declined the association’s request to install Unistar meters for customers within our franchise.

“This act largely is capable of misleading our esteemed customers and portraying the company as an organisation that does not have regards for the rule of law.”

The COO appealed to customers to be more cautious and not fall into the hands of fraudsters who parade themselves as marketers, selling and installing illicit meters not recognised by the company or approved by NERC.

“From the 105,000 meters allocated to IBEDC under Phase zero of NMMP, we have metered over 69,000 of our customers while we continue to give free meters to customers within our network as the next phase of the program kicks off soon. Do not pay anyone for meter or installation’’, Ayodele explained.

He advised customers or stakeholders that want meters to visit any IBEDC office closest to them.

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