An angry mob in Abaranje, Ikotun area Lagos State, southwest Nigeria, went on the rampage and attacked the staff of Power Holding Company of Nigeria, PHCN, and destroyed their property.
The attack which took place at the weekend followed what electricity consumers in the area described as the crazy electricity bills slammed on them by the PHCN workers.
P.M.NEWS learnt that the mob, mainly residents of the area, vent their anger when they stormed the administrative branch office of PHCN at Customs bus stop, Abaranje, Ikotun and attacked the PHCN staff and destroyed their property.
Items damaged include chairs, tables, electrical appliances, fridge, television, glass doors and windows and other administrative materials such as files and book records kept in the office.
The police at Ikotun division intervened and brought the situation under control before they could set the office ablaze.
A policeman identified as Mathew was severly macheted during the fracas and he is critically lying at Igando General Hospital where doctors are battling to save his life.
P.M.NEWS gathered that police made some arrests in connection with the fracas. Among those arrested include the Ikotun Igando Local government Supervisory Councillor for Works, Mr A. O. Arizona who the PHCN officials alleged to be the cause of the problem.
Also arrested was the PHCN manager, Mr William Ekpeki, Samuel Ilori a staff of PHCN and others.
They were later released on administrative bail while the investigation continued on the matter.
P.M.NEWS gathered that the residents were angry because, in spite of incessant high bills residents have been getting from PHCN, they don’t have regular supply of electricity in the area.
According to the residents, they have been complaining and nothing has been done to address the issue.
According to some residents, PHCN brings bills of between N8,000 to N25,000 every month for each household which they call estimated bills, and the bills continue to accumulate because residents could not pay.
“Most of the residents have accumulated bills to the tune of N100,000 and above. The PHCN response has been either you give them bribe or they disconnect you,” a resident revealed.
The cause of the current crisis was the recent N22,000 estimation bill given to Mr Arizona and when he didn’t pay, the PHCN workers went to his house and disconected his light.
Narrating what happened, the manager of PHCN in the area, Mr. William Ekpeki, told P.M.NEWS that his men went to his house at 32, Ogunfumi street, Okerube and disconected his light because he was owing the amount.
He alleged that Arizona came to their office with more than 20 thugs and started destroying PHCN property and attacked some of the staff who ran away to save their lives, an allegation Arizona denied.
The manager said Arizona had threatened to deal with the staff and nothing will happen and his men came and attacked PHCN staff and started destroying properties in the office before the police were contacted.
He said in the process, one of the policemen was macheted.
He regreted that an individual will bring thugs and destroy government property and behave as if he is above the law.
When P.M.NEWS contacted Arizona, he denied that he brought thugs to attack them.
He said he has been paying his bills but lately PHCN started bringing outrageous bills to him and demanding bribe as well.
He said the amount he paid in his subsequent bills did not reflect in the bills they brought to him and they went to his house when he had gone to work and disconnected his light and also demanded N2,000 from his wife before they would connect him back.
Arizona said when he went to their office to ask them why they were demanding the money and the money he paid did not reflect in his bills, they ignored him and most of the residents that had similar problem and were also in their office to complain.
He said instead of PHCN staff attending to them, they ignored them and threatened not to reconnect them until they paid the outarageous bills.
He noted that there was a sponteneous reaction from the residents that caused the commotion there. He said he was even trapped there and was rescued by the police.
Some of the residents who spoke to P.M.NEWS complained bitterly that PHCN was exploiting them through outrageous bills.
Those who spoke said the PHCN staff are heartless and they deliberately bring estimated bills in order to collect bribes from them.
“They are working for their pockets and not for government,” a resident remarked.
When P.M.NEWS visited Ikotun Police Division, the DPO, CSP Akika, was not around to comment on the matter.
Sources at the station comfirmed the incident and told our reporter that some arrests have been made and the suspects will soon be charged to court.
The issue of estimated bills which many electricity consumers said is another name for official fraud, is also causing problem in Ejigbo, Isolo, Agege, Idimu, Egeda, Oko-Oba and others. And the PHCN has not come out to explain why it slams such bills on residents in Lagos State.