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Whistleblowing Gone Wrong: My Case With NERC

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We all are happy that the promise by the federal authorities to reward anyone who helps to find looted funds seems to be yielding fruit. If the government keeps its promise to give them 5% of the loot, at least two whistleblowers so far will be hundreds of millions of naira richer soon.

Long before this reward system came, however, some of us had been offering the service for free. Rather than get a reward, we have been exposed to greater danger. What can one do when a government agency protects private interests rather than public interests? Perhaps some of us were born into the wrong country!

My case began early in 2016 when I reported UPDC (UACN Property Development Company Plc), which built and manages an estate called Emerald Court in Gudu District of Abuja, to the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC).

Inside Emerald Court where I reside, the company (UPDC) installed a 1.015MW generator, and, without a licence from NERC, operates illegal GENCO and DISCO.  It subjects all of the estate’s residents to arbitrary billing: the more you pay, the higher your electricity bills become.

When I discovered that UPDC operated outside the NERC Act, I quickly reported the matter to NERC. In no time NERC officials came to the estate to see for themselves, and quickly confirmed that the company was not just operating illegal GENCO and DISCO but was doing so massively, defrauding residents in all its estates estimated to number 200 across the country. By so doing, UPDC violated Section 62(2) of the Electricity Power Sector Reform Act, 2005, which prohibits a person, except in accordance with a licence issued by NERC, from operating an undertaking for generating electricity above 1MW in aggregate for distribution of electricity with a capacity above 100KVA at a site.

In view of the foregoing, NERC stated that it would penalize UPDC for established violations of the Act, which include: (a) illegal generation and distribution of electricity above 1MW and 100KVA respectively without a licence by NERC, (b) overbilling, (c) illegal disconnection of power supply, and (d) failure to separate grid from private electricity supply.

After a meeting on May 25, 2016, at NERC headquarters, involving me, NERC and UPDC officials, NERC thanked me for my efforts as a whistleblower, and handed a letter which read: “In line with NERC Meter, Billing, Cash Collection and Credit Management for Electricity Supply Regulation, 2007, the Commission hereby directs that:

  1. You (UPDC) cease to serve the residents of Emerald Court Estate through bulk metering
  2. You (UPDC) install meters for each and every resident of Emerald Estate within thirty (30) days from date of this letter, and revert back to the Commission or provide alternative plans and timeline with which you would meter these customers.”

When I brought up the issue of fining UPDC for infraction and for defrauding thousands of residents in its estates across the nation and making sure that it stopped defrauding its residents, NERC promised me that my request would be granted as soon as possible and that I would be notified.

But, soon after, a friend on the staff of NERC alerted me to some possible backdoor agreements reached between NERC and UPDC. NERC, he told me, seemed to have compromised on its duties to the extent that, rather than be the protector of public interests, it became the protector of private interests. I began to wonder if UPDC was one of those power companies that used to go through the backdoor to have its way.

My friend even told me that NERC would soon give a letter to UPDC to enable it continue with business as usual by illegally granting it six months’ reprieve, which would be enough time for UPDC to perfect and prepare its battle against me.

He was right. As soon as NERC did the suspected letter dated June 27, 2016, to UPDC, my friend advised me to go to NERC and insist on getting a copy of the letter. It took several visits to NERC before I was given a copy of the letter, which under normal circumstances I should have been copied as a person of interest.

Once I got a copy of the letter, I wrote back to NERC a letter dated July 18, 2016, and copied the minister of power, works and housing, Mr Babatunde Fashola, to alert his office to the ongoing fraud in NERC.

Here are the issues I raised in that letter:

What are the justifications for NERC refusing to fine UPDC for operating illegal GENCO and DISCO along with illegally trading in electricity and by so doing denying the federal government billions of naira in revenue?

What are the justifications for NERC allowing UPDC to still continue operating the same illegal captive power generation, distribution and trading in electricity in all its estates across the nation, and by so doing earning billions of naira from these illegal activities?

Why is NERC biased and in a hurry to grant the company GENCO and DISCO captive licence so as to legitimize its illegal trading in electricity but reluctant to ensure that it stops defrauding unsuspecting residents and refund the billions of naira it had already illegally collected from its victims, myself included?

Even though I gave NERC seven days to respond, I am yet to receive a response from either NERC or from the honorable minister, Fashola.

On January 20, 2017, I received a letter from UPDC dated December 5, 2016, part of which states that in order “to comply with NERC regulation and avoid any sanction associated with non-compliance…” the following will be undertaken as solution to the NERC requirement:

Exchange the 650KVA generator with 400KVA (to have a total of 400+365KVA which is less than 1MW) as directed by NERC. This will in no way affect power supply as output calculation has shown that the 400KVA will suffice.

Connection of each unit to the national grid with each unit having two meters for public and generator power consumption. This comes with associated cabling and electrical works, which cost will be borne by home owners (asset replacement deposit).

Because of this running battle, UPDC has made my life so miserable that, on many occasions, their staffers have had to embarrass me, threaten my family, and cut my electricity at weekends, requiring me to engage in a series of telephone calls before they could restore power to my residence.

Notwithstanding their endless efforts to mess me up and frustrate my life, however, I’ve continued to fight them, not only to achieve justice for myself but also to expose this massive corporate fraud committed by UPDC, assisted by NERC. We are talking about billions of naira this private company extorts from residents in its numerous estates.

Source: Leadership

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I don’t mind being a second wife to a rich man: Nigerian Actress

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I don’t mind being a second wife to a rich man: Nigerian Actress

Ruth Eze, Nigerian actress has revealed that due to family pressure, she doesn’t mind to be a second wife to a rich man.

Eze made this known in an exclusive interview with Inside Nollywood.

She expressed that due to her mother’s pressure on her to marry, she wouldn’t mind being a second wife as long as the man is rich and agrees to a white wedding.

“My mother is on my neck to get married but I can’t afford to marry a poor man, truth be told. So, I have been calming my mum down. I told her if I don’t look well and rush into marriage, I might rush out before she knows it.

For now, I’m here waiting for true love and without money, love can’t be true and sweet. I also don’t mind being a second wife as long as he agrees we have a white wedding,” she said.

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It is well with my soul – Ada Ameh mourns daughter

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It is well with my soul – Ada Ameh mourns daughter

Nigerian Actress, Ada Ameh has taken to social media to mourn her daughter who died on October 20 in Abuja.

 

The actress shared burial poster of her late 31-year-old daughter,  Aladi Godgifts Ameh, stating that the process will hold at the New Gwarinpa Cemetry in Abuja.

 

Sharing the obsequies, Ada Ameh wrote;

“Join me as I finally lay my daughter to rest .. just keep praising Him cos olowo gbogboro is turning things around for my Good…its well with my soul

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US special forces rescue American held hostage in Nigeria

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US special forces rescue American held hostage in Nigeria

U.S. special forces rescued an American citizen who had been kidnapped by armed men in an operation on Saturday in northern Nigeria that is believed to have killed several of his captors, U.S. officials said.

U.S. special forces

Forces including Navy SEALs rescued 27-year-old Philip Walton, who had been abducted on Tuesday from his home in neighboring southern Niger, two U.S. officials said on condition of anonymity, adding that no U.S. troops were hurt.

A diplomat source in Niger said Walton is now at the U.S. ambassador’s residence in Niamey.

“Big win for our very elite U.S. Special Forces today,” U.S. President Donald Trump wrote on Twitter.

White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany said on Fox News that the Trump administration had over the years rescued 55 hostages in 24 countries.

navy seals

The Pentagon confirmed the operation but did not provide the identity of the hostage.

Walton, who kept camels, sheep, and poultry and grew mangoes near the border with Nigeria, was kidnapped by six men armed with AK-47 assault rifles who arrived on motorcycles at his home in southern Niger’s Massalata village early on Tuesday.

His wife, young daughter, and brother were left behind.

Reuters has reported that the perpetrators appeared to be from the Fulani ethnic group and that they spoke Hausa and some English. They demanded money and searched the family’s home before leaving with Walton.

Niger, like much of West Africa’s Sahel region, faces a deepening security crisis as groups with links to al Qaeda and Islamic State carry out attacks on the army and civilians, despite help from French and U.S. forces.

Four U.S. soldiers were killed in an ambush in Niger in 2017, sparking debate about the United States’ role in the sparsely populated West African desert that is home to some of the world’s poorest countries.

At least six foreign hostages are being held by Islamist insurgents in Mali, Burkina Faso and Niger. Islamists have collected millions of dollars in ransom payments in recent years. The U.S. government has frequently criticized other countries for paying.

Culled: Reuters

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