Residents of Maiduguri, the Borno State capital, have kicked against the 24-hour supply of electricity to their communities.
According to the residents, the constant electricity supply has increased the amount they pay for electricity and has led to "outrageous billings".
They accused the Yola Electricity Distribution Company (YEDC) of giving them high bills and called for a reversal to the 12-hour electricity supply they previously enjoyed.
Speaking with NAN, Ibrahim Suleiman, a resident of Bolori Layout, said: “YEDC should go back to the former supply system where electricity was supplied for 12 hours and not 24 hours recently being enjoyed. I work from 7am to 4pm, so I do not need any electricity until I get home. But in this case whether you consume power or not, you will be billed to pay for it. I think this is not fair."
Esther Chukwuma, another consumer, referred to the billing system as "frustrating", saying: "My bill indicated that I used 605 units in November and they charged N14,000 as against N6,500 for September where I used the same units. They are charging me for what I did not consume because during the day, I spend most of my time in my shop.
"I only use the electricity at night at home. I have a prepaid meter in the shop and I don’t spend more than N2,000 in a whole month. So how come I am not staying at home and I am being asked to pay N14,000. I am here in their office, demanding an explanation."
On her own, Fatima Musa, a widow, said: “I was given a bill of N15,000 monthly instead of the N5,000 I used to get monthly. I strongly disagree with this outrageous charges given without any explanation."
According to Mrs Musa, electricity consumers, especially those without prepaid meters constituted a higher percentage of those affected, as the billing process was “opaque and lacks transparency”.
Malam Abdullahi Bako, who lives in Gwange, accused YEDC of charging between N9,000 and N15,000 for electricity supplied to a one-room apartment in a month.
“We are being forced to pay for electricity we never consumed; this is extortion, we demand for transparency in the billing methodology,” Bako said.
Addressing the issues raised, Alhaji Usman Wakta, the YEDC Maiduguri Business Manager, said: “These complaints may be as a result of the commissioning of the 330kV transmission line which now supplies electricity 24 hours. On the average, we now supply electricity in the town for a minimum of 22 hours in a day, which simply implies that the consumption of energy by residents in the state have multiplied or even tripled itself.
“We took a simple study from our prepaid meters users and we found out that the people that usually came to buy unit of N2,000 or N3,000 in a month now have to spend N15,000 or N20,000 because of their energy usage. One thing we notice about the consumers is that they waste energy. People have this habit of leaving their lights on even in the afternoon.
“Go to some super markets or filling stations, you will see more than 200 bulbs on in the afternoon. So the more you load you use the more energy you consume."
Responding to the allegations of "outrageous billings for those without prepaid meters, Wakta said: ”We go to people’s home to do load assessment based on the gadgets they have in the house and bill them accordingly."