By Sunny A. David, Onitsha
The Ogidi Division of the Anambra State Police Command have arrested three men for assaulting staff of the Enugu Electricity Distribution Plc (EEDC), while they were carrying out their legitimate duties in Nkpor area of the state.
This development was made known to newsmen by the Head of Communications, EEDC, Mr. Emeka Ezeh, through a press statement.
According to him, the EEDC team made up of linesmen and marketers attached to its Umunya Service Centre, under Ogidi District, were at Maryland Layout, Umuoji Road, Nkpor, for cash drive/disconnection of indebted customers.
They were in the premises, which is a two storey building to engage with the customers before serving them the disconnection notice when two hefty men locked up the gate and descended on them, slapping, punching and smashing one of them against the gate when he tried to escape, thereby leaving him in a critical state at the hospital, as a result of the cracked jaw bone injury he sustained from the assault.
The statement stated that the main suspect was identified as Nonso Amadi, 32 year-old, who hails from Orlu, Imo State; while his accomplice, identified as Chibuzor Okafor, 32 year-old, is an indigene of Umanachi, Anambra State; and a 67 year-old man identified as Onyelowe Sylvanus, an indigene of Aba Ngwa, Abia State, who attempted to attack the team with a machete.
“The suspects were immediately arrested by the Police and are currently detained at the Ogidi Police Station for interrogation and further legal proceedings,” the statement added.
The Head of Communications said with this development they were optimistic that the appropriate punishment would be administered to these men to serve as a deterrent to others.
According to Mr. Ezeh, assault on EEDC field officers in the course of carrying out their daily operations was one of the challenges faced by the company, adding that this had been prevalent in Ogidi District.
“We have had situations where customers release their dogs on our staff, threaten them at gun point to either come down from the pole or to climb and reconnect them.
“Sometimes, these staff are pulled down from the ladder while they are still on the pole and attacked with harmful objects like knife.
“These are individuals who work to earn a living, most of whom are bread winners to their families. If this is encouraged, it could happen to anyone tomorrow.
“The management of EEDC frowns at these actions and will not hesitate in ensuring that the law takes its course.
“We value our staff, and are concerned about their safety, especially when they are carrying out their lawful duties, and we are ever ready to protect them and prosecute anyone or group that assaults them,” he added.
Furthermore, he advised customers to pay their electricity bills as and when due to avoid being disconnected and not to take laws into their hands.
“Where there are grievances, they are encouraged to follow the established redress mechanism approved by the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC), to channel their complaints. The regulation also provides opportunity to escalate issues to the nearest NERC Forum Offices within their area, for further intervention.
“There is no justification for the kind of assault meted on our staff by these suspects, and we hope other will learn their lesson and that such will not re occur,” Mr. Ezeh insisted.