14 July 2016, Lagos – A power expert, Mr Gracious Omatseye, on Thursday said the Lagos High Court judgment annulling the recent hike in electricity tariff was unfair to power sector investors.
On July 13, a Federal High Court in Lagos annulled the recent 45 per cent increase in electricity tariff announced by the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission.
Justice Mohammed Idris made the pronouncement while delivering judgment in a suit filed by a human rights lawyer, Mr Toluwani Adebiyi, challenging the increment.
The judge described NERC’s action as being ultra vires, irrational, irregular and illegal.
“The judgment is not fair at all. It is three steps forward and five steps backward,” Omatseye, who is the former Chairman, Nigerian Institutions of Electrical and Electronic Engineers (NIEEE), said.
“The annulment of the increase is not good technically, because most of the power stations in Nigeria are old and they need funding.”
He appealed to the Federal Government to ensure that the Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) pay the debt they owed the Electricity Distribution Companies (DISCOs).
In another interview, Alhaji Abdul-Rasak Osho, President, Iponri Housing Estate Residents Association, said that the judgment was a victory for electricity consumers.
“It is a welcome development; the increment was exploitation in the first instance.
“NERC and the DISCOs should have ensured that all houses in the country are metered before embarking on the increment.
“With this judgment, I think government should find a way of helping the service providers to get gas and increase their generation, which will enable them make more money from sales.
“It will also give them a higher turnover than increasing the tariff on small output to cover their overhead,’’ Osho said.
Mr Raji Yusuf, the Chairman, Alaba-Oro/Mosafejo Landlords Association, Ajeromi-Ifelodun Community Development Area, said that DISCOs should not reintroduce fixed charges because of the annulment.
Yusuf commended the court for giving the consumers hope, adding that the 45 per cent increase was cheating the masses.
On his part, Mr Bayo Akinlade, a lawyer at Ijede, in Ikorodu, a suburb of Lagos said that consumers would still suffer the backlash.
He said, “It is good for the consumers but bad for the Discos, but like most painful things, the consumers will still suffer the backlash.
“I am sure the DISCOs will appeal, if they followed due process in increasing the tariff then they will get judgment in their favour but if they didn’t, no court will listen to them.
“For, even the courts are electricity consumers as well,’’ Akinlade said.