Nigerian electricity distribution companies (DisCos) have been advised to study the type of cooperation between Aba Power, Nigeria’s 12th and newest power distribution firm, and various communities in Abia State to learn how to protect their assets which are frequently vandalised across the country.
A security consultant, Air Commodore Nicholas Orjiudeh (retired), gave the advice in Aba today while speaking to journalists.
“The deep cooperation between the power firm and the communities has led to a series of arrests in recent times of young men vandalising the power infrastructure in nine out of the 17 local government areas in Abia State serviced by Aba DisCo”, Air Commodore Orjiudeh, also an engineer, stated.
“Due to the impressive cooperation, two neighbourhood watches have just caught the same day in two communities the leaders of two gangs of robbers notorious for attacking transformers and armoured cables and other vital power components. They were caught in action”.
He gave the names of the two robbery gang leaders as one Ifeanyi, a 27-year-old man with no visible means of livelihood, and Ezinwa Amanze, a 38 year -old jobless person from Umuekwe village in Aro Ngwa, Isiala Ngwa South Local Government Area.
According to Commodore Orjiudeh, Ifeanyi was attacking power facilities on Umuimo Avenue, off the famous Aba-Owerri Road in Aba, when the local vigilante service saw him and quickly pounced on him while his colleagues fled.
It was easier to catch Ifeanyi than his colleagues because of his reputation in the locality as a robber.
Amanze was apprehended while vandalising the power infrastructure at Isiala Osokwu in Isiala Ngwa South LGA.
Regius Amaechi, a retired commandant of the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC) who now works as the Deputy Chief Security Officer at Geometric Security Service, confirmed to correspondents that the two vandals were arrested by members of different neighbourhood watches who handed them over to his service.
He stated: “After interrogation, we handed over Ifeanyi to the Rapid Response Squad of the Nigeria Police Force while Amanze was handed over to the Anti-Kidnapping Squad in Aba”.
Both suspects are being tried at magistrate courts in Aba.
Air Commodore Orjiudeh noted that the spate of electricity vandalism in the Aba Ring-Fenced Area used to be much higher but was reduced significantly by a mechanism which the management of Aba Power introduced after it commenced operations in the Aba Ringed Area late last year.
“Just the way the police authorities now emphasise community policing to enhance security in the country”, he continued, “ is the way electricity distribution companies should be focusing on working with communities where their assets are located to protect them because official security agents cannot be everywhere.
“The locals are in an excellent position to provide intelligence which organisational or official security agents can act on quickly”.
While decrying vandalism against critical public assets like telecommunication cables, petroleum pipelines and electricity infrastructure whose social and economic costs are almost incalculable, Orjiudeh counselled various organisations affected by the criminal acts to borrow a leaf from “a new company like Aba Power to reduce the menace significantly”.