Kakuri is suburb in Kaduna State, Nigeria. The community is densely populated by very low income earners, majority are retired industrial workers now struggling with family for survival through menial jobs and petty trading businesses.
Through petty trading, my community is dependent on the use of electricity to power their businesses for income generation. These businesses include commercial grinding of corns/maize, sales of iced fish, barbing salon, welding etc. However, Kaduna Electricity has been supplying light epileptically to the community and at out of pocket bills. The people are saddened because of how high cost to electricity token has caused them untold hardship, but just that none could speak up. So they lived with it so long out of ignorance.
Kaduna electric had placed a notice at their Kakuri purchasing outlet, forcefully mandating my community members to buy token for electricity from N1, 000 and above or stay in darkness. Painfully this amount was far and wide for my poor community members to afford at all purchase. But since I make my purchase online and at any amount I so wish, I was not aware till I visited the outlet. That day I could not buy a token because I hadn’t N1, 000, so I was left stranded and slept without light. Before I left the outlet, I had made it clear to Kaduna Electric staff that their action is not right and is outright violation to me and my community members.
Recognizing electricity laws of Nigeria, I wrote a petition to Kaduna Electric, Kakuri outlet office on the continuous extortion and violation of my community members, asking them within 14 days notice to stop the abuse or else I will seek redress with the regulatory authority which is Nigeria Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC). Then they explained to me that they are doing so as to meet up with their monthly sales targets and returns. Then I asked should meeting your sales target be at the detriments of me and my community? When the law is clear that a customer should and can buy token at any amount he/she so wishes or can afford? On the question they could not give me justifiable reason(s). Then I pressed on. Meanwhile, I have taken pictures of the notices placed at the outlet with date and time recorded on my phone. Unknown to them, my conversations with them were voiced recorded.
Then I return to my community to sample opinion through organization of focused group discussions with youths, women and men on the issue. Almost all the people sampled didn’t know the extortion was violation of their rights. Even if they knew, were scared and do not know the appropriate channel to approach. I made it clear to them that the action was violation and that together we can get redressed. I then raised another petitioned after the expiration of the 14 days notice, signed by other 10 members of community who are also violated; forward same to Nigeria Electricity Regulatory Commission with three (3) point prayers as follows –
- That the regulator should declare the action of Kaduna Electric illegal, abuse of consumers rights to choice and extortion according to Nigeria Electricity Laws.
- That Kaduna Electric should immediately remove all such notices in their outlets and allow my community members to buy/purchase electricity token at any amount they so wish and or can afford according to Nigeria Electricity Laws.
- That Kaduna Electric should write apology letter to Kakuri community for the extortion and violation of their rights and replace it wherever they had placed the former notices in their outlets.
After hearing, Nigeria Electricity Regulatory Commission ruled and upheld all my prayers on behalf of the community and give Kaduna Electric, Kakuri outlet, three days period to comply fully with the ruling or be sanctioned. The ruling, Kaduna Electric has since complied with fully and now my community members can buy token of electricity at any amount they can afford. This brought a lot of relief to my community members and many are now willing to learn and know more about their human rights.