Youths in different parts of Bayelsa State today used machetes and other objects to attack six workers of the Port Harcourt Electricity Distribution Company (PHED) and three police officers attached to the company. The electricity firm’s staff were assaulted while attempting to recover debts and disconnect power service to debtors.
Police and company sources disclosed that the company’s business service manager, Pere Alazigha, was severely cut with machetes and left in a pool of his blood. One of the firm’s workers, identified as Christian Umegbewe, sustained injuries when youths pushed him down from a ladder as he tried to disconnect service.
PHED’s chief operating officer, Kingsley Achife, confirmed the attacks in a statement issued by the firm’s spokesperson, Sophilia Obire. The statement disclosed that some residents of Epie community in Bayelsa State also attacked security personnel attached to the company.
“The attack, which was spearheaded by youths, resulted in injury to three policemen, the Business Service Manager, Pere Alazigha, a linesman, Christian Umegbewe and other staff members involved in the disconnection exercise,” the statement disclosed.
It continued: “While Alazigha was left with a machete cut on his body, Umegbewe was pushed down from the ladder by the youths during the disconnection process. Both of them were immediately hospitalized.”
Mr. Achife condemned the attacks, adding that “PHED will not relent in their commitment towards serving their paying customers and this we hope to achieve by ensuring that customers pay for energy consumed.” He urged the public to desist from attacking staff who are working to render quality service to them.
In a comment on the attacks, Ms. Ngozi Manafa, the chief executive of Glory City Main Integrated Business Center in Yenagoa, the Bayelsa State capital, said the Ford Hilux conveying staff to the venue was also damaged, leaving its windscreen shattered.
“The Epie community had an outstanding debt record of N60,484,304.56 and a current bill of N2,321,327.78, to which they paid 70,000 and 50,000 respectively,” she said. Then she added: “The incident was the second to take place within the week as two days before, [a] disconnection team of PHED was also beaten up at Airtel Road.
“Only last month, some residents of Akemfa community attacked PHED staff on collection drive with the Business Service Manager, Mr. Festus Owi, taken to the bush by some angry residents, a situation that led other PHED staff running for cover. This community owes the company over N47,130,2.26.
“Several other attacks have also been witnessed in Koroma in Gbarain clan of Bayelsa State, where one PHED staff was held hostage and of the Hilux pick up [vans] was also damaged.”