A Lokoja Chief Magistrate Court has ruled that the Abuja Electricity Distribution Company (AEDC), Lokoja Area Office, has case to answer in the case of illegal and unlawful disconnection of electricity to a private residence.
The Chief Magistrate, Dr. Mohammed Tanko made the declaration on Wednesday in Lokoja in his ruling on a “No case submission” filed by counsel to the AEDC staff.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that Surveyor Dennis Osanwuta, a management staff of the National Inland Waterways Authority (NIWA), Lokoja, instituted the suit against James Olayemi and lameed Obadaki, both staff of AEDC.
They were charged with Criminal Conspiracy contrary to Section 97 of the Penal Code and Illegal and Unlawful disconnection contrary to section 5 and 11 of the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission’s Connection and Disconnection Procedures for Electricity Services 2007.
They were alleged to have on March 10, agreed to do or cause to be done an illegal act, to wit: unlawful disconnection of electricity supply to metre number 715718350 supplying electricity to Osanwata’s premises on No.1, NIWA Quarters, Lokoja.
Counsel to the defendants, C.P. Ocheja Esq. formulated one issue for the determination of the court – Whether the prosecution had made out a prima facie case against the defendants to warrant the court compelling them to enter their defence.
Ocheja urged the court to strike out the case over presumed inability of the prosecution to establish a prima facie case against the defendants to link them with the alleged offences.
He submitted that in criminal proceedings, the burden of proving the guilt of a defendant rested on the prosecution and that in the case at hand, there was no evidence to prove the alleged offences.
The prosecuting counsel, Emeje Aruwa Esq. submitted that the duo did conspire to carry out a disconnection of electricity supply to the premises of the complainant in spite of that he did not default in payment of his bills and described the act as unlawful.
Aruwa posited that the law required a minimum of three months notice from the defendants in line with the provisions of regulation 5 of the Electricity Services, 2007.
He urged the court to take cognizance of Regulation 10(8) of the Nigeria Electricity Regulatory Commission, Connection and Disconnection Procedures of Electricity Services, 2007.
Aruwa noted that the law was intended to protect consumers of electricity services and urged the court to hold that a prima facie case had been established requiring the defendants to enter their defence.
In his ruling, Mohammed said the defendants were brought to court vide direct criminal complaint pursuant to section 87(3) of the Administration of Criminal Justice Law, Kogi State 2017.
He held that the prosecution had established a prima facie case against the defendants and had a case to answer saying that the act of disconnection was done in defiance of an existing agreement with the AEDC.
“You thereby, committed an offence contrary to Regulations 5 and 11 of the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission Connection and Disconnection Provision for Electricity Services, 2007 and also punishable under section 94 of the Electricity Power Sector Reform (EPSR) Act 2005. (NAN)