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Court Prevents Electricity Regulatory Commission From Increasing Tariff

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A Federal High Court sitting in Lagos has prevented the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission from increasing the electricity tariff it charges consumers.

Justice Mohammed Idris granted the order on Thursday,May 28, 2015 after a Lagos-based lawyer, Mr. Toluwani Adebiyi, had moved a  motion ex parte praying the court to stop the increase.

The Chairman of NERC, Dr. Sam Amadi, had at a recent press conference in Abuja, disclosed the plan by the commission to implement an upward review of electricity tariff payable by Nigerians.The proposed increment was billed to commence from June 1, 2015.

Mr. Adebiyi, the lawyer who challenged the tariff increase claimed that the proposed increment would “foist further hardship on Nigerians,” he also contended that any increment in tariff was unjustifiable in the face of poor or erratic supply of electricity by the distributing companies.

According to the lawyer, if the proposed increment was permitted, most electricity companies would retain the N750 fixed charge.

Justice Idris, upon hearing the application, ordered that the status quo be maintained pending the determination of the substantive suit.

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

He is also requesting an order restraining the NERC from foisting compulsory service charges 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 charges on pre-paid meters not to be enforced until a time when there is visible efficient and reliable power supply like those of foreign countries from where the idea of service charge originated.

Adebiyi is further asking for an order of court mandating the NERC to ‘do the needful’ to generate more power to meet the electricity needs of Nigerians.

According to him, ‘the needful’ included but was not limited to: a multiple long-term financial approach, sourced from the banks, capital market, insurance and other sectors to power the sector.

The lawyer is also asking the court to mandate the NERC to make available to all Nigerians prepaid meters within a maximum time frame of two years.

This, he said, would curb “the throat-cutting, indiscriminate estimated billing, which must be devoid of the arbitrary service charge, but only chargeable on power consumed.”

The matter was adjourned for further hearing on June 11, 2015.

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