The headquarters of the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) in Abuja Monday got a taste of the ripples of protests as Protesters on the platform of the Nigerians Against Bad Policies, stormed the headquarters to demand reversal of the revised electricity tariff.
Displaying placards, some of which read “DisCos, Provide Free Prepaid Meter for Every Customer”, “Arise Nigeria, Take Action”, “We Reject Hike in Electricity Tariff”, explained that the increment would affect Nigerians negatively, considering the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on the economy.
The demonstration, however, took a different turn as armed policemen drafted to the area asked the protesters to disperse.
However, the directive did not go down well with the protesters, leading to pandemonium.
Salako Kayode, one of the protesters, was arrested for challenging a police officer who snatched a phone from one of those who filmed the encounter.
“As Nigerians, we cannot continue to live as slaves in our own country. They cannot continue to kill us while they expect us not to cry or complain,” Sanyaolu Juwon, who spoke on behalf of the protesters, said.
“Nigerians cannot continue to live as slaves in their own country with the unpopular and anti-people government policies being implemented by the Buhari-led administration.
“It is unfortunate that in the course of conducting ourselves in a peaceful manner, the police came and attacked us with brute force. They hit us with guns. I was beaten several times on my head.
“We thought we are still running constitutional democracy. This act is barbaric and Nigerians must all rise in unison to defend our democracy.”
Following an upward review approved by the federal government, electricity distribution companies (DisCos) began the implementation of the new service-based reflective tariff structure on September 1, 2020.
While customers on estimated billing will not be affected as President Muhammadu Buhari has ordered mass metering of consumers across the country, DisCos have been directed to maintain the life-line tariff of N4 for customers consuming less than 50kWh of energy per month “as a safeguard for the less privileged members of the society”.
Also, according to NERC, customers enjoying less than 12 hours of supply will not be affected by the increment.
However, protesters who converged on the premises of the NERC headquarters called on the government to reverse the increment in the interest of Nigerians.