ABA Power Limited, Nigeria’s newest power distribution firm, has advised consumers in nine of the 17 local government areas in Abia State which it supplies electricity to watch out for a syndicate of criminals demanding payment for not only power supplies but also prepaid meters, so that they will not fall prey to the criminals.
The warning is contained in a statement this morning signed by the Aba Power Limited managing director, Patrick Umeh, who notes that the “criminals are trying to cash in on the enthusiasm of Abia people to acquire both single-phase and three-phase meters to commit fraud against unsuspecting electricity consumers”.
Displaying copies of fraudulent demand notices, Umeh, a former commissioner with the Nigeria Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) in charge of markets, rates, and competition, explains that the notices are “surprisingly not in the name of Aba Power Limited but in the name of the Enugu Electricity Distribution Company(EEDC)”.
The nine LGAs serviced by Aba Power were part of the territory covered by the EEDC until February 2022 when Aba Power acquired the ring-fenced area, however, the billing for power supplies remained in the EEDC name until six months later.
“To make the illegal demand notices and advisories on prepaid meter payment look genuine”, said Umeh, who was also an executive with the Los Angeles Water and Power Corporation in California, “the criminals ask customers to pay exactly the same amounts charged by Aba Power for our services and products”.
In a fake advisory to a customer at130 St Michael Road in Aba, the Abia State commercial nerve-center, she is requested to pay N63,061.27 for a single-phase meter into the account of Advanced Energy Management Solutions with any bank whereas Aba Power is working with Holley Metering Ltd, as approved by NERC, for the prepaid meter installation in the nine LGAs. She is also given a false Remitta payment reference number of 110768132753.
The fraudsters, in a further move, to make the transaction look authentic, provide telephone numbers through which they can be reached, namely, 084700100, 08150825365, and 08150825365.
A single-phase meter costs N63,061.32 while a three-phase meter costs N117,910.69. The payments can be made in full or in installments for up to three months.
Jude Efidi, a sales manager at Aba Power, explains that the meter asset belongs to Aba Power, hence the payments made by customers for meters
under MAP Scheme will be refunded to them in 36 months through energy
“This is a far-reaching measure to ameliorate the burden of acquiring prepaid meters in these difficult times, and Aba Power is working hand in hand with NERC for the speedy implementation ion of this national programme”, he states.
“Our chairman, Professor Bart Nnaji, a former Minister of Power and one of the world’s best-known academic engineers, has directed Aba Power to become the first electricity distribution firm in Nigeria to provide all its customers with prepaid meters, despite the fact that Aba Power is less than a year old ”.
Umeh describes as regrettable a situation “where NERC and Aba Power led by Professor Nnaji are working frantically to make things better for Abia people, some criminals are employing various tricks to defraud them of their hard-earned resources”.
He advises customers to pay only into the designated account with Access Bank.
“Customers who need more information”, he says, “can walk into any of our offices and seek advice from various service teams”.