NERC Chairman, Prof. James Momoh

***We’re Studying Sanctions, AEDC

By CLEMENT NWOJI, Abuja

The Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) has ordered Abuja Electricity Distribution Company (AEDC) to pay N300 Million within 14 days as sanction for 12 major infractions and violations of conditions of its licence, Distribution Code and Nigeria electricity Health Safety Codes (HSC).

NERC ordered that the sum of N50 Million should be paid on 28 May, 2019 to the family of late 4-year old boy, Master Mohammed Arafat Jibril, whose cause of death on April 11, 2019 was traced to AEDC’s negligence in complying with the terms and conditions of its licence,
Distribution Code and HSC.

Further, the Commission ordered that the sum of N250 million should be paid by AEDC to it as fine on 20 May, 2019 “for all infractions/violations identified in this order”.

These sanctions were contained in the Order No: NERC/GL/169, Before the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission in the matter of non-compliance with the electric power sector reform act, terms and conditions of electricity distribution licence no: NERC/LC/032, and other regulatory instruments of the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission. This was signed by the NERC Chairman, James A.Momoh and the Commissioner (Legal, Licensing and Compliance), Dafe C. Akpeneye and issued on Tuesday, 14 May, 2019.

This is even as AEDC in its reaction to the Order said it is studying the content and will explore available options of engagement to manage the situation.

According to a terse paragraph statement by the AEDC’s General Manager, Corporate Communications, Oyebode Fadipe, “We confirm the receipt of the NERC Order No. NERC/GL/169 wherein the Commission ordered AEDC to pay the sum of N300m. We are studying the document for a full understanding of the content.

“NERC is a democratic regulatory agency that encourages engagement with players. We shall explore all avenues of engagement in the management of the situation.”

In the Order, NERC directed that: “AEDC shall pay the sum of NGN50miliion to the family of late Master Mohammed Arafat Jibril as compensation to his family and this compensation payment shall be made to the family at formal presentation to be held at the Commission on 28 May, 2019.

“AEDC shall pay a fine in the sum of NGN250miliion to the Commission for all infractions/violations identified in this order. This fine shall be due and payable by 20 May 2019.

“AEDC shall conduct a detailed safety audit of its network and the findings of this safety audit shall be sent to the Commission within 90 days from the date of this order.

“AEDC shall send the Commission a detailed remediation plan to address the issues in the safety audit in the short, medium and long term.”

NERC had noted through its thorough investigations that “AEDC’s negligence in complying with the terms and conditions of its licence, Distribution Code and HSC resulted in the death of a 4-year old boy, Master Mohammed Arafat Jibril, on 11 April 2019 at the Senior Quarters of the Federal low-Cost Housing Estate, Maikunkele, Bosso local Government Area of Niger.

It said the Commission conducted a random investigation of AEDC’s facilities at different locations in Abuja and similar acts of non-compliance were identified and that the particulars of the infractions and some photographs of random non-compliant facilities from the inspection conducted by the Commission were disclosed in the
Notice of Intention to Commence Enforcement (“NICE”) NERC/llC/CU/20 19 /IU/1232 that was issued to AEDC by the Commission on 29 April 2019.

According to the Commission, “The particulars of non-compliance in the NICE are as follows – a. AEDC failed to take reasonable steps to protect the public from injury by ensuring that distribution systems are maintained in accordance with
standards in the Distribution Code thereby leading to the fatal electrocution of Master Mohammed Arafat Jibril, contrary to the provisions of – I. Section 71 (5) of EPSRA.

“II. Condition 18(1) & 38(8) of the terms and conditions of AEDC’s distribution licence; III. Section 1.3.26 of the Distribution Code.

“b. AEDC failed to send a preliminary report of the accident within 72 hours contrary to the p·rovisions of section 5.3.1 of the HSC.

“c. AEDC failed to comply with the provisions of the Commission’s Regulations and breached the terms and conditions of its distribution licence contrary to – I. Section 63 of EPSRA. II. Condition 2 of the terms and conditions of the distribution licence”

Consequently, the Commission maintained that the sanction was imposed on AEDC on the following grounds: “UPON being satisfied that AEDC has violated the provisions of section 7 of the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) Regulations for investment in Electricity Networks 2015 by failing to complying with the Regulations on the investment made by the community.

“UPON being satisfied that AEDC has violated the provisions of section 6.2 of the Nigerian Electricity Supply and Installation Standards (NESIS) Regulations 2015 by failing to adequately fence and secure their distribution substation to prevent
unauthorised access even after this breach was identified by the AEDC technical crew that worked on the site 2 weeks before the incident.

“UPON being satisfied that AEDC has violated the provisions of section 6.3.1 (c) of the Nigerian Electricity Supply and Installation Standards (NESIS) Regulations 2015 which provides that “feeder pillars shall be installed on a plinth of not less
than 600mm from the ground with furnished tamperproof lock and appropriate
clamp”.

“UPON being satisfied that AEDC has violated section 1.3.26 Part IV of the
Distribution Code which imposes the obligation on distribution licensees to ensure that “distribution transformers, switchgears, distribution boxes etc. installed in streets and accessible to the public shall be protected by locking the doors and/or providing a suitable fence with gate wherever possible. DANGER signs must also be prominently displayed on the fence and equipment”.

“UPON being satisfied that AEDC has violated the provisions of section 1.2 (ii) of the HSC which provides that “an operator shall have a corporate culture that promotes safety of workers and the environment”.

“UPON being satisfied that AEDC’s safety record in 17 above and the other acts of commission or omission identified in this order contributed remotely and directly
to the death of Master Mohammed Arafat Jibril on 11 April 2019.

“UPON being satisfied that AEDC has violated condition 18( 1) of its distribution licence which imposes an obligation on AEDC to take all reasonable steps to protect persons and property from injury and damage that may be caused by the
licensee when carrying out the licensed business.

“UPON being satisfied that AEDC has violated condition 38(8) of its distribution licence which imposes an obligation on AEDC to ensure that the distribution system is maintained in accordance with standards in the Distribution Code to ensure quality, safety and reliability of the electricity system.

“UPON being satisfied that AEDC has violated section 63 (1) and (2) of EPSRA which imposes an obligation on the holder of an electricity distribution licence to comply with the terms of issuance of the licence, regulations, codes and other
requirements issued by the Commission.

“UPON being satisfied that AEDC has admitted to the random non-compliant facilities that were identified by the Commission and confirmed in writing that “regarding the nine facilities mentioned in the Commission’s notice, we have taken
all necessary measures to remedy the safety defects highlighted therein, and their recent statuses are as contained in the attached schedule. We are also overhauling our HSE plan of work and we will be sharing that with the Commission
shortly”

“UPON being satisfied that has admitted in writing to the major risk of its exposed infrastructure and confirmed in writing that “AEDC would like to bring to the
Commission’s attention that we have identified exposed infrastructure as a major risk and a breach of industry best practice requirements as well as regulatory requirements. We have therefore escalated the implementation of CAPEX projects
to address these defects. Our initial focus and priority areas are critically exposed infrastructure in public places such as markets and schools”.