“We are appalled”- Group demands PHCN refund N378 billion, as government moves to avert strike

by Lekan Olanrewaju

The Coalition for Social Equality has spoken out against the Power Holding Company of Nigeria, PHCN, demanding that the company pay the amount of N378 billion to consumers. This, they said, was the  sum total of the illegal Meter Maintenance Charge, MMC, introduced in 1998.

“We are however appalled that no action has so far been initiated by your office on the question of refund of the sum of N378billion or $2.5 billion dollars wrongly and illegally collected from impoverished electricity consumers in the country beginning from 1998 till November 2011.” read a letter by the group to the Minister of Power, Barth Nnaji.

“It is currently estimated that there are over 4.5 million registered electricity consumers in Nigeria who have continued to pay this illegal charge since its introduction in the late 90s which is only three per cent of the projected population of Nigerians put at 150 million. We have therefore assumed that only three out of every 100 Nigerian receive PHCN bills and pay MMC.”

Both the minister and the Chairman of the Nigeria Electricity Regulatory Commission NERC, Dr. Sam Amadi, had previously labelled the Meter Maintenance Charge as illegal.

Meanwhile, the Federal Government on Monday began making moves to avert the planned nationwide strike by workers of the Power Holding Company of Nigeria. Workers of the PHCN had previously threatened to embark on a strike on April 11 due to the sacking of 3 executives, as well as other grievances.

A source is quoted by The Punch as saying: “Government is inviting us for a meeting, but they have only talked to us on the telephone. Maybe because of the public holidays, they have not been able to communicate with us as expected, or if they have done so, I have not seen anything to that effect.

“They want to intervene because of the looming strike. But until then, I cannot hold on to that until I see a document. Actually, we don’t have any business with the Ministry of Labour. I think this reaction is because they read our plans in the newspapers and that is why they have called us for a meeting.

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