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Reverse 45% Electricity Tariff Increase, Court Orders NERC

tcn; electricty transmission
Posted: Jul 14, 2016 at 4:33 am   /   by   /   comments (0)

…Reps Oppose New 100% Hike


Innocent Oweh, Ahmed Musa

Abuja – A Federal High Court sitting in Lagos has directed the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) to revert the 45 percent tariff increase it imposed on consumers nationwide.

The court in its judgment early Wednesday, described the 45 percent tariff increase as illegal, awarding N50,000 cost against NERC for initiating the increase in the first instance.

The court, in its judgment, submitted that the implementation of the 45 percent increase constitutes a violation of its interim order.

The development has thrown members of the Nigeria Labour Congress into jubilation.

NLC and other electricity consumers had dragged the NERC before a Federal High Court to challenge its rationale for initiating the tariff increase even when it was obvious that Nigerians suffered from epileptic power supply.

Before the latest judgment, there had been a subsisting court order dated May 28, 2015 by Justice Mohammed Idris of the Federal High Court, Lagos, in the case of Toluwani Yemi-Adebiyi versus NERC & Ors, that there shall be no increment until the determination of the substantive suit.

Ayuba Wabba, president of the NLC, in his reaction to the judgment on Wednesday, described it as courageous and deserving of commendation.

“We at the Nigeria Labour Congress wish to state that this is a courageous and judicial judgment deserving of commendation.

“We also consider it victory for the ordinary Nigerian who has been crushed by exploitative bills,” he said.

He urged NERC and DISCOs to obey the judgment and revert to the old rates without further delay.

“We demand that the NERC and DISCOs observe all the conditions precedent as contained in the sales agreement before any increase be made,” Wabba noted.

The umbrella workers’ union recalled that the joint stakeholders on increment on electricity tariff led by the Nigeria Labour Congress in their communiqué issued in Lagos and dated January 29, 2016, had declared that the increment was illegal, unfair, unjustifiable and a further exploitation of the already exploited Nigerians.

“The due process in the extant laws for such an increment was not followed in consonance with Section 76 of the Power Sector Reform Act, 2005.

“There has been no significant improvement in service delivery coupled with the fact that most consumers are not metered in accordance with the signed Privatisation Memorandum (MoU) of November 21, 2013 which stipulates that within 18 months gestation period, all consumers are to be metered.

“The increment at this time negates the present biting prevailing economic recession vis-a-vis an attempt to further impoverish the poor masses.

“Accordingly, the stakeholders demanded an “immediate halt of this morbid and exploitative intention” with a warning that an observance in the breach would attract a response such as the mobilisation of all Nigerians to resist the new tariff, mass protest or picketing of all DISCOs nationwide, and a directive to all consumers to reject any bill with the new tariff,” NLC said.

Wabba said in an effort to reach an amicable resolution on the matter, NLC reached out to all the stakeholders in the sector including NERC, DISCOs, the Minister of Power, and the National Assembly.

He said in spite of the resolution of the National Assembly demanding a reversal and restraining order by this same Federal High Court, Lagos, NERC and DISCOs went on to enforce the tariff increase, prompting a nation-wide protest on February 8, 2016.

He noted that the protest action was suspended following the intervention by the leadership of the Senate which subsequently initiated a process of public hearing.

Meanwhile, the House of Representatives has opposed the move by the Federal Government to increase electricity tariff by 100 percent, describing the entire privatisation of the power sector by former President Goodluck Jonathan’s administration as a jamboree and the biggest scam in the country.

This is coming following a publication exposing plans by the Federal Government to increase electricity tariff by 100 percent.

The House, therefore, resolved that the planned increase is not pro-people, insisting that the electorate must be protected from unnecessary increase in the price of electricity.

It also directed its committee on legislative compliance to interface with Discos and ensure compliance.

The resolutions followed a motion under matters of urgent public importance moved by Hon. Aliyu Sani Madaki (APC, Kano), wherein he drew the attention of lawmakers to the alleged plans by Discos to hike electricity tariff without correspondent increase in power supply.?

He recalled that the House had in the past opposed such hike on the ground that it was illegal and brought a lot of hardship on the populace.

Madaki reminded the House that the Discos promised to inject a lot of money into the system when they acquired the infrastructure but have now gone round siphoning money from Nigerians for services not rendered even when billions of naira of public funds have been released to them by the central bank as bailout.

He urged the House to uncover how much the Discos have so far injected into the system and also unveil the extent to which they connive with Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) to shortchange Nigerians.

Contributing to the debate, House majority leader, Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila (APC, Lagos), said that “no country privatises an infrastructure as basic as power”, arguing that “even when it becomes inevitable, government should have opted for institutional privatisation rather than handing such a critical sector to individuals that lacked both the financial muscle and the technical know how to turn it around”.

“The Discos as we have it today is the biggest scam in Nigeria. The contracts should be revoked as they do not have the financial capacity neither do they have the technical knowhow. Their inability to provide electricity even at exorbitant prices indicates that they serially violated the terms of agreement leading to the privatisation.?

“In developed economies you do not privatise your major life wire. Even if there is need to get investors, we should get institutional investors not just private business entrepreneurs”, he said.

He stressed that there cannot be further increase or hike in electricity tariff just as he reminded his colleagues that there were several resolutions of the House as well as court judgments against such a hike which have not been complied with.

Hon. Ahmed Chanchangi (APC, Kaduna) in his argument acknowledged that power is a basic necessity and power companies should not be given the leeway for arbitrary increase in tariff.

Hon. Philip Shuaibu, another APC lawmaker from Edo, opined that a special committee led by the speaker, Hon. Dogara be set up for a comprehensive investigation of the extent to which the loan Discos recently obtained from the central bank was utilised.

He noted that incessant increase in tariff cannot get the companies out of the present logjam unless something drastic was done.

A publication by Daily Trust on Tuesday, July 12 entitled ‘Electricity Companies Push For 100 Percent Tariff Increase’ suggested that the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission and the Ministry of Power are in cohort with electricity distribution companies in a bid to jerk up tariff to an unprecedented level.

The matter upon being put to question was referred to the ad-hoc committee on sale of power asset for further action.