No fewer than 800 transformers have been vandalised in communities in Akwa Ibom State in the last two years, PUNCH Metro has learnt.
As a result, communities such as Itu, Udua Ikpa, Nung Oku, Ibiono Ibom in Itu and Ibesikpo/ Asutan local government areas of the state have been without electricity.
To replace some of the stolen components from the transformers, it was learnt that it would require millions of naira.
To guard against a recurrence, residents within the Uyo Business District of the Power Holding Company of Nigeria have vowed to protect their transformers and all other assets belonging to the PHCN in their areas.
Some of the residents of Uyo, who spoke with journalists on Friday expressed concern about the rate with which transformers were being vandalised and the inability of the police to apprehend the vandals.
Former Transition Chairman, Itu LGA, Mr. Idongesit Ituen, recalled that he had to reward some vigilance groups with cash for arresting some of the vandals.
Although the area had been without electricity for a while, he said vandals rather than PHCN should be blamed for plunging the area into darkness.
A resident, Okon Uwah, said the residents were tired of the antics of the Police in the area.
He accused the police of not charging vandals apprehended by the vigilance groups to court.
“Even when we handed over these thieves, the police would not do them anything. The police would keep inviting us to their station to make statements; we got tired of frequent statements and left the case,” Uwah said.
It was learnt that in Urua Ikpa, the vandals struck last week, causing power outage in the area.
Some of the residents, who spoke with our correspondent, said the danger inherent in releasing cable thieves and transformer vandals was that they might resort to jungle justice.
Earlier, the Uyo Business District of the PHCN Mr. Uzoma Mbuko, had raised the alarm over incessant activities of the vandals in the areas.
He warned that unless the trend was halted, the activities of the vandals would make it difficult to guarantee regular supply of power in the areas.
Mbuko called on the police and other relevant security agencies to join hands with the communities and fight the “agents of darkness.”
All attempts to reach the Police Public Relations Officer, Mr. Etim Dickson, were unsuccessful as calls and text message to his telephone were not responded to.