A Federal High Court siting in Lagos has ruled that the electricity tariff hike by the National Electricity Regulation Commission (NERC) is illegal and forthwith ordered a reversal to the status quo.
Human rights lawyer, Mr. Toluwani Adebiyi, had filed a lawsuit challenging the increment. Adebiyi, in the substantive suit had sought an order restraining NERC from implementing any tariff hike without a significant improvement in power supply.
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He also requested for an order restraining NERC from slamming compulsory service levy on pre-paid meters, until they are designed to read charges per second of consumption.
Trial judge, Justice Mohammed Idris in his judgment described NERC’s action as procedurally ultra vires, irrational, irregular and illegal.
Thus, restraining the agency from further increasing the tariff or tarrif hike except in strict compliance with provisions of the Electricity Power Sector Reform Act 2004 (EPSRA) even as he also awarded N50,000 cost against the defendants in favour of the plaintiff.
The Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), President Ayuba Wabba, in a statement in Abuja, lauded the court judgement describing it as courageous, thus, arguing NERC and DISCOs to immediately respect the ruling, which he described as victory for the ordinary Nigerian who had been crushed by exploitative bills.
“We at the NLC wish to state that this is a courageous and judicial judgment deserving of commendation. We also consider it a victory for the ordinary Nigerian who has been crushed by exploitative bills.
‘‘Similarly, we urge NERC and Discos to obey the judgment and revert to the old rates without further delay.”
It would be recalled the NLC had in February protested against the 45% electricity tariff hike imposed on masses by NERC , saying due process in the extant laws for such increment was not followed in consonance with section 76 of the Power Sector Reform Act, 2005.
It also said there has been no significant improvement in service delivery and most consumers do not have pre-paid meters as required by the privatization Memorandum of Understanding, MOU, signed on November 1, 2013.
The MOU stated that within 18 months gestation period, all consumers are to be metered to enable fair and appropriate billings. Thus, demanded these conditions be met before NERC thinks of any increment.