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Tony Elumelu proposes special courts, name-shaming for energy thieves in Nigeria 

Tony Elumelu, Chairman of the Board of Directors at Transcorp Group, has called on the Federal Government to establish special courts dedicated to prosecuting energy thieves in Nigeria. 

Elumelu made this appeal during the 18th Annual General Meeting of Transcorp Group held in Abuja on Monday, stressing the critical need for stringent measures to combat energy theft which has been severely detrimental to the country’s power sector. 

Emphasizing the fundamental importance of reliable power for national progress, he also recommended a public naming and shaming process for convicted energy thieves, regardless of their societal status, to serve as a deterrent. 

He noted: “While I note that the provisions of the Electricity Act 2023 regarding criminal punishment for energy theft, I recommend the establishment of special courts with powers for summary proceedings to exclusively deal with cases of energy theft. There should also be a process of naming and shaming convicted energy thieves irrespective of their status in the society.” 

Addressing the financial challenges plaguing the sector, Elumelu highlighted the substantial debts owed to power generation companies (GENCOs) by the Nigerian Bulk Electricity Trading Plc (NBET). 

He said: “The power sector is designed to function in a cycle that ensures liquidity flow and payment assurance, which in turn sustains the reliable flow of electricity from power generation companies (“GENCOs”) to end users. The distortion in the liquidity flow in the sector is huge and typified by the debt owed to GENCOS by Nigerian Bulk Electricity Trading Plc (“NBET”), currently in excess of N2 trillion. We are owed N250 Billion as at March 2024. 

“Technically, the GENCOS are subsidizing the sector by continuing to generate power despite the huge debts owed them. This, obviously, has impacted negatively on the ability of the GENCOS to pay their gas suppliers, thereby impacting the quantity and reliability of gas supply to the GENCOS, as well as investment in generation.” 

He urged the Federal Government to expedite actions to address these debts, emphasizing the need for liquidity to sustain reliable electricity generation. 

Additionally, Elumelu called for the full privatization of the Transmission Company of Nigeria (TCN) and DISCOs. 

“Only a partial privatization of the power sector has been achieved since the privatization exercise commenced in 2012. As of today, TCN is owned 100% and DISCOs are owned 40% by the Federal Government, which also holds ownership interests in some GENCOs. 

“To enable the sector to be efficiently run by the private sector, I recommend that the Federal Government should come out with a clear timeline for full privatisation of the power sector, starting with the DISCOs and Transmission Company of Nigeria,” he suggested.