The Nigerian energy company, otherwise known as the Jos Electricity Distribution Company (JED), has intensified efforts in its fight against energy thieves who have been on a rampage, vandalising its facilities.
Though the criminals are mostly staff of the company who understands electrical technicalities, JED is leaving no stone unturned in prosecuting anyone caught frustrating its efforts.
To demonstrate firmness and matching words with action, the company in a statement signed by its Spokesman, Dr. Friday Elijah, said JED has concluded arrangements to commence the prosecution through the office of the Minister of Justice and Attorney-General of the Federation.
He said the Inspector General of Police has however pledged its commitment to lead the fight in nabbing those committing the energy heinous crime.
Speaking in a workshop organised to brainstorm how to end the ugly trend of vandalism, the Managing Director JED, Engr. Abdu Mohammed said the effort is also facilitated with the Special Investigation and Prosecution Task Force on Electricity Offences (SIPTEO), Elijah said.
According to him: “The action was necessitated by the fact that the menace of these criminal elements has become a threat to the survival of the company, hence the need to bring in the two prosecuting federal bodies to help in the expeditious arrest and prosecution of offenders without compromise through the instrumentality of the Electricity Act.
“The Electricity Act introduces legal consequences for various illegal activities related to electricity theft, illegal meter tampering/bypassing, and intentional damage to electricity infrastructure.
“The Act he said criminalizes these actions and prescribes penalties for those found guilty.
“Electricity theft now attracts a sentence of 6 months to 3 years imprisonment, while theft of electricity lines and materials can result in imprisonment between 3 to 5 years. Receiving stolen electricity is a felony with a 14-year maximum sentence”, Mohammed said.
He continued: “Interfering with meters or the works of licensees is punishable by three years imprisonment.
“Obstructing licensee (Disco) staff from carrying out lawful activities now attracts a jail term of 6 years and a minimum fine of N2 million”, he said.
Mohammed, consequently urged staff members of the company to perform their duties uprightly or face the wrath of the law.
On his part, Alli Baba, the deputy director of public prosecution at the AGF’s office, urged the management of JED not to shield erring staff from punishment.