The Loss Control Unit (LCU) of the Accra East Region of the Electricity Company of Ghana (ECG) has uncovered illegal connection of power to the premises of the International God’s Way Church founded by Bishop Daniel Obinim.
The ECG had in March this year blocked the prepaid meter of the guest house for the failure of the operators to settle outstanding debts when the facility was then using a post-paid meter.
The ECG puts the total cost of the revenue loss as a result of the illegal connection at GH¢217,757.33.
Electricity supply to the facilities has since been disconnected from the national grid until the church takes steps to pay the amount.
The Loss Control Coordinator of the Accra East Region of the ECG, Mr Jonathan Asante, who made this known to the Daily Graphic yesterday, gave the breakdown of the total cost as church/residence, GH¢76,750.11; guest house, GH¢133,604.60 and OBTV, GH¢7,402.62.
Explaining how the illegality was discovered, Mr Asante said on August 17, this year, the Legon District of the ECG reported that it had uncovered illegal connection on the entire premises of the church, which houses the residence, guest house, offices and the television station.
“So I sent a team from here, which confirmed the illegal connection detected by the Legon team. We called the electrician of the church because issues such as this you need somebody from their end to also witness what has been uncovered,” he said.
He indicated that following the checks, it was realised that the entire premises had been grouped under various meters.
The guest house, he said, with 25 air-conditioners had three meters, a meter for eight air-conditioners at the television station and an apartment which also had eight air-conditioners.
The bishop’s residence, he said, had 10 air-conditioners.
Mr Asante said it was observed that the church was powered by different generators with the claim that ECG could not power the air conditioners in the church well.
“But his private residence, which is supposed to be connected from the church’s meter, was not passing through any meter,” he said.
The church’s electrician, Mr Asante claimed the offices, the church and the residence were supposed to be supplied with one meter.
He also said when the ECG team disconnected that meter, only the offices and the church went off while his residence still had supply.
He said when the other meters were disconnected, it was realised that they had done a by-pass to supply the residence illegally.
He also explained that the church decided to change the post-paid meter for the guest house in February this year to manage their debt at a time the indebtedness was GH¢ 27,000.
After the officials of the Legon District ECG Office waited without the church coming forward to settle the debt, the Legon office blocked the church from purchasing credits for the prepaid meters.
Mr Asante said after the Legon office realised that it had a long list of customers who had been blocked but were not coming to settle their indebtedness, its staff decided to go round and check customers owing it, and it was during the rounds that the illegality was discovered on August 17, 2016, at the guest house.
He said, for instance, that although the bishop’s church was blocked from buying credits for the prepaid meters from March this year, the policy of the ECG as sanctioned by the Public Utilities Regulatory Commission (PURC) said “where you do an illegal connection for even a month, you are surcharged for a year so that it would be punitive enough for people to refrain from such an act.”
The church/residence, Mr Asante said, was assessed to have used power for over a period of 24 months putting the bill at GH¢76,750.11 while the guest house was assessed for the use of power over a period of one year, making the bill GH¢133,604.60. The television station, assessed for a period of one year, putting the bill at GH¢ 7,402.62.
The matter, he said, had been reported to the police for prosecution. “They have come for the bills and they said they were going to meet their board,” he said.
Bishop Obinim also had a brush with the law a couple of weeks ago for allegedly flogging two young adults in his church. He is also accused of defrauding someone of his gold bars.