Court Stops NERC From Increasing Electricity Tariff | Independent Newspapers Limited
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Court Stops NERC From Increasing Electricity Tariff

Posted: May 28, 2015 at 3:17 pm   /   by   /   comments (0)

By Tunde Opeseitan, Lagos

A Federal High Court in Lagos on Thursday, May 28, 2015 restrained the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) from implementing the new electricity tariff billed to take effect from June 1, 2015.

The judge, Justice Mohammed Idris, in a ruling on an ex-parte application filed by a Lagos lawyer, Toluwani Adebiyi, restrained the NERC and the electricity distribution companies from effecting any increment in electricity tariff pending the hearing and determination of the suit.

Adebiyi, who argued the ex-parte application in person, had urged the court to restrain the NERC and the electricity distribution companies from foisting further hardship and unjustifiable tariff increment on Nigerians as widely announced by the commission.

NERC Chairman, Dr. Sam Amadi, had at a news conference in Abuja announced plans by the commission to implement the upward review in electricity tariff effective from June 1.

Amadi had further said that with the review, most electricity companies would retain the N750 fixed charge.

But Justice Idris, after entertaining arguments from Adebiyi, ordered the NERC to maintain status quo with effect to the planned upward review of electricity tariff.

The judge ordered that the motion and other processes in the suit should be served on the NERC.

Justice Idris also granted leave to the applicant (Adebiyi) to serve the originating summons, the affidavit in support, list of exhibits and the written address on the defendant (NERC) in Abuja, which is outside Lagos judicial division of the Federal High Court.

The judge also adjourned the hearing of  the suit to June 11, 2015.

Adebiyi, in the suit, is seeking an order restraining the NERC from implementing any upward review of electricity tariff without a meaningful and significant improvement in power supply at least for 18 hours in a day in most communities in Nigeria.

He also wants an order restraining the NERC from foisting compulsory service charge on pre-paid meters not until “the meters are designed to read charges per second of consumption and not a flat rate of service not rendered or power not used.”

He also wants the service charge on pre-paid meters not to be enforced until there is visible efficient and reliable power supply like those of foreign countries where the idea of service charge was borrowed.

Adebiyi is further asking for an order of court mandating the NERC to do the needful and generate more power to meet the electricity use of Nigerians, adding that the needful should include and not limited to a multiple long-term financing approach, sourced from the banks, capital market, insurance and other sectors of finance to power the sector.

Finally, the lawyer is asking the court to mandate the NERC to make available to all Nigerians within a reasonable time of maximum of two years, prepaid meters as a way to stop the throat-cutting indiscriminate estimated bill and which must be devoid of the arbitrary service charge, but only chargeable on power consumed.

In an affidavit in support of the suit personally deposed to by the applicant, the lawyer lamented that despite the motto and mission of NERC which were expressly stated as “keeping the light on and to meet the needs of Nigeria for safe, adequate, reliable and affordable electricity,” most communities in Nigeria do not get more than 30 minutes of electricity supply, while the remaining 23 hours and 30 minutes were always without light and in total darkness.

“Nigeria’s poor masses are paying an estimated and indiscriminate residential bills ranging from N5, 000 to N18, 000, spending an average of N15, 000 to N20, 000 for fuel to maintain generating set.

“Businesses have collapsed, industries have closed down, and residents cannot sleep comfortably at night due to inefficiency of our power industry.

“Companies and commercial houses are groaning under throat-cutting power bill which they are paying for, yet not getting the benefit for such payment,” Adebiyi stated.

He stressed that the proposed increase in electricity tariff was coming amidst the tangled web of poor power supply with no reasonable proof of improvement.