JUST IN:Court Declares 45% Electricity Tariff Hike Illegal, Orders Reversal
LAGOS JULY 13TH (URHOBOTODAY)-The Federal High Court sitting in Ikoyi, in a landmark judgement has declared the 45 per cent tariff increase by the Nigeria Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) as illegal.
The court ordered, therefore, that the increment should be reversed immediately.
The court held that the implementation of the 45 per cent increase constitutes a violation of its interim order.
The presiding judge went ahead and awarded N50,000 cost against NERC.
Reacting to the judgement, President of Nigeria Labour Congress [NLC], Comrade Ayuba Wabba, mni, said it is a courageous judgement
The statement, personally signed by Comrade Wabba, reads in part:
We at the Nigeria Labour Congress [NLC] wish to state that this is a courageous and judicial judgement deserving of commendation.
We also consider it victory for the ordinary Nigerian who has been crushed by exploitative bills.
Similarly, we urge NERC and DISCOs to obey the judgement 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.
We call 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 as follows:
• The increase is 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 Privatization Memorandum (MoU) of November 21, 2013 which stipulates that within 18 months gestation period, all consumers are to be metered;
• There is a subsisting court order dated May 28. 2015 by Honourable Justice Mohammed Idris of the Federal High Court, Ikoyi, Lagos, in the case of Toluwani Yemi-Adebiyi versus NERC & Ors, that there shall be no increment until the determination of the substantive suit;
• 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 Stake Holders 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 mobilization 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.
In an effort to reach an amicable resolution, the Nigeria Labour Congress reached out to all the stakeholders in the sector including NERC, DISCOs, the Minister of Power, and the National Assembly.
In spite of the resolution of the National Assembly demanding a reversal and restraining order by this same Federal High Court, Ikoyi, NERC and DISCOs went on to enforce the tariff increase, prompting a nation-wide protest on February 8, 2016.
The protest action was suspended following the intervention by the leadership of the Senate which subsequently initiated a process of public hearing.