The Port Harcourt Electricity Distribution Company has condemned the arrest of two of its staff who were on legitimate duty, including the firm’s head of security, by the police and accused a Divisional Police Officer, Emmanuel Ifeanyi, of economic sabotage.
The company alleged that Ifeanyi, a Superintendent of Police, illegally released two drivers and their haulage trucks that destroyed electrical installations belonging to the PHED.
This was contained in a statement issued by the PHED’s Head of Corporate Communications, John Anonyai, on Thursday, and sent to newsmen in Port Harcourt.
The statement further read, “On the 24th of April 2022, an array of freight haulage trucks conveying massive equipment along the Onne/Eleme axis of the East West Road, destroyed several PHED electrical installations. “Available information revealed that in the process of forcing their way through the route, using sticks to adjust and move uninsulated overhead cables, they tampered with the red, yellow and blue face, of which, caused an induction that damaged a PHED 500KVA Transformer.
“The matter was reported at the Akpajo Divisional Police Station and the drivers were arrested. As it’s expected, the next day, the Head of Security at PHED, Major Tubonemi Williams Adey (retd.) reported at the same police station to follow-up the matter.
“But was told by SP Emmanuel Ifeanyi who is the station’s DPO, not to be aware of the incident and that the drivers have been released. He disclosed that he released them due to pressure from above which is unfounded. After the disclosure, Major Williams thanked him and left his office to find out the whereabouts of the trucks.” The statement however said, while the Head Security was making calls in an attempt to uncover the mysterious disappearance of the trucks, ‘the DPO on sighting him, stormed out of his office and ordered the immediate arrest of Major Williams and his colleague.
“Indeed, they were arrested and humiliated to the barest level behind the counter and stripped off their phones and other valuables. The company’s legal team was soon invited to secure their release whilst colleagues of the DPO made overtures for peaceful resolution of the matter,” the PHED spokesman added. He however explained that ‘damaging’, ‘vandalising’ and ‘stealing’ of electricity infrastructure was an act of economic sabotage and a criminal offence.
Continuing, the statement said, “In this case, the superintendent did not only aid the activities of vandals or those who damaged critical power infrastructure, but in a questionable manner, released them, and in contravention of Major Williams’ human rights, illegally arrested and detained him and his colleague.
“In the face of impunity, economic sabotage and disenfranchisement of the fundamental human rights of PHED staff, the company has petitioned the State Commissioner of Police about the gross abuse of office by Superintendent Ifeanyi. The financial loss to PHED for the action of the DPO and the haulage truck has been estimated to be about N20 million.
“The haulage permit policy remains an important element in the power distribution chain that protects power facilities and the right of citizens to enjoy available power supply, undisrupted by economic saboteurs who subvert processes for little gains.”
“The MD/CEO of PHED Dr. Henry Ajagbawa has affirmed that the missing trucks and their accomplices will pay for the electricity infrastructures damaged as well as the value for the haulage permit and concluded that the intimidation and ugly arrest of PHED’s Head of Security is a constitutional matter and will be addressed accordingly,” the statement explained.
When contacted, the acting spokesperson of the state police command, Grace Iringe-Koko said “We are investigating the matter. If he (DPO) is found culpable, we will bring it out.”