22 July 2015, Abuja – A Federal High Court in Lagos has adjourned till July 23, 2015 to rule on an application seeking the reversal of a recent order, which restrained the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission from raising electricity tariff.Justice Mohammed Idris on Tuesday adjourned the matter after the counsel for NERC, Mr. George Uwechue (SAN), canvassed an argument, urging the court to vacate the restraining order made by him on May 28, 2015.
The court will on the adjourned date also rule on the preliminary objection filed by NERC challenging the plaintiff’s locus standi and seeking outright dismissal of the entire suit.
Uwechue argued that the order restraining NERC from embarking on its proposed increase in electricity tariff was made in error.
He described the filing of the ex parte application that led to the restraining order as an abuse of court processes.
He argued that the failure of the applicant, Mr. Toluwani Adebiyi, a Lagos-based lawyer, to back up the ex parte application with a motion on notice had rendered the application incompetent and the order made inconsequential.
Uwechue, in his preliminary objection, challenged Adebiyi’s locus standi to institute the action, adding that the applicant failed to explore and exhaust available remedies before rushing to court.
Adebiyi, however, submitted that the non-filing of a motion on notice was dictated and covered by the urgent nature of the subject matter.
He insisted that the ex parte application was properly heard and that the order was properly made.
“The matter was filed on May 25, heard and granted on May 28. May 29 was a public holiday. May 28 was the last working day before June 1, the date that the proposed electricity tariff hike was supposed to take off,” Adebiyi said.
While urging the court to discountenance the defendant’s prayer to discharge the restraining order, Adebiyi said the order was the only thing that had prevented a breakdown of peace in the country and urged the court to sustain it.
He added that contrary to the claim by NERC, the plaintiff had exhausted all other avenues for remedy, including writing letters and embarking on peaceful protests, all to no avail before he decided to head for court.
Adebiyi described as an encroachment of the main suit, the defendant’s application seeking to discharge the order restraining it from raising electricity tariff.
He had filed the suit following the announcement by the Chairman of NERC, Dr. Sam Amadi, that the commission would embark on an upward review of electricity tariff in the country.
But Adebiyi is contending that the proposed increment will “foist further hardship on Nigerians,” and asked the court to stop it.
According to the lawyer, any such increment in electricity tariff is unjustifiable in the face of poor and erratic supply of electricity by the distributing companies.
– This Day