NERC explores possible sanctions against TCN over illegal account

06 October 2015, Lagos – Following the expiration of the seven-day ultimatum given to the Transmission Company of Nigeria (TCN) by the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) to close down an illegal bank account, the regulatory agency is exploring possible sanctions against the company, THISDAY has learnt.

NERC Chairman, Dr. Sam Amadi.

NERC Chairman, Dr. Sam Amadi

THISDAY had reported that the regulatory agency had directed TCN to close the account it opened to trade within the electricity market and restore normalcy to its operations within seven days, a deadline, which expired last Wednesday.It was gathered that following the expiration of the deadline, the regulatory agency is exploring all the options available to it within the law to sanction TCN.

Investigation revealed that NERC may consider financial fines against TCN as well as the suspension or outright removal of certain officers or officer found to be culpable in violating the regulations of the electricity market.

NERC’s Chairman, Dr. Sam Amadi gave the hint in a chat with THISDAY at the weekend.

Amadi said “sanctions can range from financial fines to suspension or removal of officer through appropriate channels.”

The agency had mandated a 10-man enforcement task team to follow through the seven days’ notice to close down the unilateral account, which one of TCN’s departments opened in utter disregard for established market laws.

The team was also to monitor TCN’s reinstatement of some of its elevated staff back on its payroll as ordered pending a contrary presidential directive to their appointment and elevation.

NERC had issued notice to commence enforcement action on the Market Operator (MO) of TCN for operating a unilateral bank account.

The notice gave the erring MO seven days to take remedial actions by winding down its operation of the unilateral bank account and report compliance.

The commission in the notice warned that failure of the MO to comply will attract strict disciplinary action against it.

MO, as a division of the TCN that issues market settlements and invoices due to the market participants and service providers in the Nigerian Electricity Supply Industry (NESI) fell out with its parent company, TCN on operational issues.

The issues arose when the immediate past administration appointed some staff in the MO as a separate management.

In response to the action of the government, TCN removed the names of the elevated staff from its payroll.

The MO, which incidentally partly manages cash flow in the electricity market reacted by opening a separate bank account other than the one known to TCN, perhaps to fund their salaries.

The matter was subsequently brought before NERC and parties were directed to take remedial actions.

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