11 June 2015, Lagos – A Federal High Court in Lagos on Thursday sustained its earlier order restraining the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) from implementing its new electricity tariff. At the resumed hearing on Thursday, Justice Mohammed Idris ruled that “the ex-parte order earlier given remains valid and is subsisting”.
Idris had restrained NERC and the electricity distribution companies (DISCOs) from implementing any increment in electricity tariff it had planned to commence from June 1. The judge gave the order in a ruling on an ex-parte application filed by a Lagos-based lawyer, Mr Toluwani Adebiyi.
“The policy to start billing electricity users on new charges should not commence pending the hearing and determination of this suit,’’ Idris had said.
At Thursday’s proceedings, Adebiyi told the court that all the processes in the matter, as directed by the court, had been served on NERC. “NERC has seven days to respond on issues against it in this case, but the commission is yet to do so.
“I would have loved to proceed, but it will be fair to give the commission the benefit of doubt. “I, however, urge this court to renew its earlier order so as to preserve the subject matter of this suit,’’ Adebiyi said.
Adebiyi was seeking an order restraining NERC from implementing any upward review of electricity tariff without a meaningful and significant improvement in power supply. Adebiyi also wants NERC not to foist a compulsory service charge on pre-paid meter-users until there was efficient and reliable power supply like in other climes where the idea was borrowed from.
The Petitioner, Adebiyi, is also asking the court to mandate NERC to make available prepaid meters to all Nigerians within a reasonable timeframe of two years to stop the throat-cutting, arbitrary and indiscriminate billing. A legal officer with NERC, Mr Ifeanyi Umunna, said that the commission had complied with Idris’ interim orders.
He added that the commission was in the process of appointing a counsel to defend it in the suit. “I beg this honourable court to grant us more time to do so,’’ Umunna said. The court then adjourned the case to July 9 for hearing.
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