EditorialA Blow to Due Process

A Blow to Due Process

June 9, (THEWILL)- The Minister of Power, Adebayo Adelabu’s revelation that his ministry recovered the sum of N12.7 billion out of N32 billion paid by the Federal Government to a local supplier for 3 million pre-paid meters since 2003, beggars belief. Worse still,  the company did not supply a single pre-paid meter till this day, 21 years after.

According to Adelabu, the Federal Government entered a tripartite agreement with the company, Messrs Ziklagsis Network Limited and Unistar International in 2003 for the supply of 3 million pre-paid meters to power distribution companies in the country, within three years.

The sum, a revolving metering loan, was released to Messrs Ziklagsis. All through the intervening years, the company supplied no meters. Instead, it kept moving the money from Prudent Bank to Skye Bank, Polaris and then, Providus Bank, until the minister got wind of it and sought the intervention of President Bola Tinubu.

Even so, only N12.7 billion has been released by the company, a sum that the Adelabu quickly deployed for metering of an army barracks at the cost of the recovered amount.

Indeed, it was the army that was recently scandalised by the exposure of its huge electricity debts to the Abuja Electricity Distribution Company, AEDC, which brought everything into the open through a petition to the government, soliciting assistance to offset its debt to the AEDC.

To understand the magnitude of this apparent mischief to the metering process in the country and how successive governments have deliberately turned a blind eye to this obvious fraud, read the minister’s statement: “After 21 years, not a single meter has been procured. When I came into the office, I said this was not possible. All past administrations have tried to retrieve this fund, but they did not succeed because the supplier was powerful. When I got to the office, I told Mr President that we would have to request this woman to return the money. The first thing I did was to ensure she returned N12.57 billion to those who were supposed to meter all military formations. The balance is yet to be released by the company.”

We praise the minister for not only recovering part of the fund but also for going further to reveal the company behind this shady deal amidst complaints and public outcry against the slow metering process in the country beside the low wattage in place.

We however suggest that the company should be blacklisted, the so-called powerful woman behind the deal charged with fraud and handed to the police for investigation and possible prosecution.

The hackneyed wisdom that says, every day for the thief and one day for the owner, should apply.

If Adelabu has gone this far in his revelation, we encourage him to go deeper and ensure that those involved, either directly or indirectly, in assisting the ‘powerful’ woman and her company to rip off Nigerian electricity consumers are brought to book.

This country has hit rock bottom in the corruption index, such that even private companies that are often held up as models of excellence to public companies have become conduits for siphoning tax payers’ money. N32 billion is a huge sum of money by all standards.

The fact that only N12 billion has been recovered from the company calls to question the due process attached to the metering process in the country.

This is the main reason we are calling for the prosecution of the company and its allies involved in this clear racket and disservice to the Nigerian consumers.

Prosecuting the company will not only serve as a deterrent to others but also send a strong message to both the wary public and relevant companies that the government means business with power generation, distribution and consumption.

Enough of a slap-on-the-wrist treatment of glaring cases of corruption in this country.


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