Regularise appeal on electricity hike, court tells NERC
The Lagos Division of the Court of Appeal, yesterday declared that the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) has no appeal against the suit filed by a lawyer and rights activist, Toluwani Yemi Adebiyi, over the hike in electricity tariff at the Federal High Court, Lagos.
NERC had lodged an appeal against the ruling of the lower court which barred it from implementing any upward review pending the hearing and final determination of the suit which judgment has already been fixed for July 7 by Justice Mohammed Idris.
But on resumption of yesterday’s proceedings at the appellant court, the presiding judge, Justice Amina Augie, noted that record of NERC’s appeal had not been properly entered owing to irregularities in its numbering.
“There is no appeal before this court and record has not been entered. NERC is hereby directed to go and sort out the irregularities noted in the appeal numbers,” she said.
Hearing of the appeal was subsequently adjourned to November 22, 2016.
Adebiyi, in the substantive suit, is seeking an order restraining NERC from implementing any upward review of electricity tariff without a meaningful and significant improvement in power supply at least for 18 hours daily in most communities across the federation.
He also wants an order restraining the commission 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.”
The plaintiff equally 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 estimated bills.
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 total blackouts.
“Nigerian poor masses are paying an estimated and indiscriminate residential bills ranging from N5, 000 to N18, 000 and spending an average of N15,000 to N20, 000 for fuel to maintain generating sets,” Adebiyi added.