By Jonathan Ugbal and Inyali Peter
Residents of Ikot Anwatim community in Cross River’s capital city of Calabar have petitioned their village head, Ntufam Patrick Offiong to the Port Harcourt Electricity Distribution Company (PHEDC) calling on the distribution outfit to investigate the monarch who alongside his cronies, allegedly N10,000 from over 300 compounds amounting to N3million.
This preceded the commissioning of the first phase of electrification projects in Calabar by the Governor, Senator Ben Ayade who called on the people to protect government installations from vandals as they will be on the losing side.
CrossRiverWatch gathered that the money, initially meant for the purchase of a transformer was allegedly diverted by Ntufam Patrick and his cronies with residents led by Mr. Dede Uwa appealing to the authorities to do all that is possible to bring the perpetrators to book.
Uwa who accused the PHEDC of conniving with Ntufam Patrick said that; “Our ordeal at Ikot Anwatim community started two years ago when our transformer broke down. Our traditional ruler, Ntufam Patrick Bassey and his cohorts asked us to pay ten thousand naira levy per compound to enable him procure a new brand transformer and money was collected for three hundred compounds existing in the community.
“Instead of the traditional ruler purchasing a new brand transformer as he had said earlier, he went ahead only to bring an old refurbished and fake transformer which packed up after a few days of installation. We were subsequently asked to pay another twelve thousand again by the traditional ruler to enable him buy another transformer since the refurbished ones that was procured by the cabal got packed up but till now the money has been diverted to his personal pocket”.
However, Patrick and the management of PHED in Cross River deny the allegations levelled against them with Patrick alleging that Uwa and his supporters were people who did not wish the community well.
“I repaired the old transformer to boost the new one that had lower capacity to supply light in the area. And not everybody paid the money and to show that they are not serious people, we don’t even have up to three hundred compounds in this community” said Patrick.
“We do not generate electricity, we buy gas and for us to recoup our money, bills must be paid because bills payment is sacrosanct. PHED had no connection with whatever that is happening with collection of money in Ikot Anwatim Community” said George Chinwo, the head of PHED in Cross River State.
In a related development, the Ikot Anwatim, Uyi Effiong and Akai Effa communities in Calabar Municipality and Calabar South Local Government Areas of Cross River State recently benefitted from the state government’s intervention on electrification following years of neglect.
Governor Ben Ayade, at the commissioning said these was part of his planned 24-hour uninterrupted power supply in Calabar metropolis and his administration’s bid of ensuring total transformation of the economic landscape, stating that power remained a key component for economic emancipation and called on the people to guard key government installations from vandalization.
Represented by his Special Adviser on Public Utilities, Hon. Iyadim Iyadim, Ayade said that: “Today there is palpable excitement, joy and feeling of sense of belonging as expressed on the faces of the people of Calabar Municipality and Calabar South as we move from one community to another, particularly those areas that felt neglected and were in darkness for a long time to commission the projects.”
“On assumption of office we undertook assessment of the metropolis and indeed the entire state to ascertain the condition as well as the level of power supply, and it was revealed that most communities were either without light or not connected and in some cases, their transformers were vandalized. So, we took a deliberate step in partnership with the Port Harcourt Electricity Company to light them up to improve living conditions in those areas.
Earlier, the Director General, State Electricity Agency (SEA) Hon. Jake Otu Enya said that: “Despite all this (purchase of transformers), we are not benefitting from the tariff. We want PHED to do something in that direction.”
Speaking on behalf of the beneficiary communities, spokesman for Uyi Effiong, Ndabo Mesembe Edet lauded Ayade for the gesture as he had rekindled their hopes and given the community a sense of belonging.
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