When Olumide Odeyemi learnt that he and his co-tenants at an apartment in Ogba, Lagos, were to pay an outrageous bill of almost N1.2 million, he went to the Ikeja Electric Distribution Company (IKEDC) office to lodge a complaint. He was greeted with harsh remarks by an official of the company.
Odeyemi, a resident of 4 Olaonipekun Avenue, Oke-Ira, Ogba, Lagos, said his co-tenants could no longer cope with such extortion.
This was in May. Until March, Odeyemi said the monthly bill was around N260,000. When they were served N1,180,982.85 bill for April, he had lamented that the it did not represent the electricity the household consumed. That was when his ordeal with IKEDC started.
Mrs Yemisi Ijadinbola, a staff member of the company, had told Odeyemi that if they wanted a reconnection, they should pay the bill for the previous month, which according to Odeyemi was roughly N300,000 with an additional fee of N15,000 meant for reconnection.
Upon paying as instructed, Ijadinbola told them that she would not reconnect their light until they paid the entire amount the company had billed them.
Refusing to comply, Odeyemi told Ijadinbola that he could not pay such money as the matter itself was under dispute and neither he nor his co-tenants knew why they were billed so ridiculously.
What signaled to Odeyemi that the matter was bigger than it appeared was when a representative from the company’s headquarters in Alausa, following his complaints, came to the building to investigate the issue. According to him, the company’s representative told him that the bill was not theirs and it was designed to “scam the residents”.
“What surprised me was that the company’s representative who promised to speak on our behalf called us the following day and said he had to drop the case as his job was on the line if he decided to pursue the case,” Odeyemi said.
In June, Odeyemi took the case to the Lagos State Consumer Protection Agency (LASCOPA), where he presented his case again and won the IKEDC representatives who were present. At that point, they promised to reconnect fix the issue the following day, but as of Monday Ikeja Electric PLC was yet to reconnect their light as Ijadinbola vowed to listen to no one.
Seeing that there was no way to defeat Ijadinbola, Odeyemi suggested the house write to the customer care of Ikeja Electric to negotiate with them.
“After our negotiation with the company, we were asked to pay 30% of our bills. We accepted it as we had no choice. As of today, July 27, 2021, it’s 12 days since we paid the money but are yet to reconnect our lights. They have defrauded us of N650,000 under the guise of this bill.”
As part of his last strategy of dealing with the issue, Odeyemi said he would take the issue to social media platforms, mobilise people for a protest, and engage a SAN.
HISTORY REPEATING ITSELF
Odeyemi told FIJ that he first received an outrageous bill of roughly N1 million in June 2020. Surprised as to how Ikeja Electric billed them such an amount, especially when the house was not defaulting on payment, Odeyemi wrote a petition to the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC). With NERC interfering in the issue, Odeyemi and co won the case and the bill was cleared.
After he won the case, well-meaning people told Odeyemi not to celebrate his landmark as it would be short-lived. According to him, everyone told him to brace up as a similitude of what had just ended would soon be rebranded by the company, but in ways that would frustrate him and give his co-tenants sleepless nights.
Exactly 11 months after Ikeja Electric PLC first billed him and his co-tenants, the bill resurfaced but this time it was N1,180,982.85.
When FIJ contacted Akin Ayeni, the Public Relations Officer of IKEDC for comments, he suggested that Odeyemi go to the IKEDC office at Oregun where he would meet a business and commercial manager who would resolve the issue. He added that if Odeyemi speaks to a certain ‘Faustino’ at the Oregun office, his problem would be resolved.