Nigeria’s oil-rich Rivers State has been thrown into total darkness in the past 24 hours with no end in sight following shutdown of Afam power station in Oyigbo local council area of the state. The darkness has however pitched the Port Harcourt Distribution Electricity Company (PHED) against the people of Oyigbo.
Whereas PHED accuses the youths of Oyigbo of invading the plant and forcing a shutdown, the lawmaker representing the area in the Rivers State House of Assembly has debunked the statement, saying it is pure lie.
PHED’s Chioma Aninwe issued a statement Sunday morning announcing the situation, saying the DisCo received a disturbing report at about 9pm Saturday night of some group of persons known as Oyigbo Youth that had shut down Afam transmission lines thereby throwing the entire Rivers State into darkness.
Aninwe said the youths in their erroneous belief took laws into their hands and marched in their numbers to the transmission station, allegedly forcing the operators to shut down supply without observing safety measures.
PHED recalled how it had held several meetings with the leadership of Oyigbo youth body enlightening the community on load allocation formula from the national grid and the need for PHED to apply systematic load shedding in order to accommodate all its customers as mandated by the National Electricity Regulation Council (NERC).
“All these attempts have proved futile as Oyigbo youth insisted on a 24-hour supply, a situation that negates the effort of PHED in ensuring equitable distribution of supply to its numerous customers,” the statement said.
“Added to this is the worsening situation of non-payment of electricity bill by the community with the majority seeing electricity as a social service. As at July 2020, the debt profile in Afam Community owes PHED over billions of naira since inception.
“The PHED condemns in its entirety, and hereby, draws the attention of the law enforcement agencies in particular and the Rivers State government to come to the aid of PHED and the good people of the state and to intervene and put a final stop to this frequent disruption of power distribution to customers at the slightest power challenge in the state,” it said.
Reacting, Oyigbo community through their lawmaker in the Rivers State House of Assembly, Promise Nwankwo, dismissed the claims by PHED.
Nwankwo described the claim as false and misrepresentation of fact and advised the public to disregard claims.
The lawmaker said the people of Oyigbo were peace-loving and would not indulge in such an act. He however did not say what shut down the Afam plant and if his people were paying electricity bills. There has been no word from the Rivers State government.
Source: Business Day