Court orders NERC to stop increases in electricity tariffs

Isola Moses

Contrary to the earlier position of Nigeria’s power regulatory agency to start the implementation of the proposed tariff increment for electricity consumers, a Federal High Court, in Lagos, has ordered stakeholders in the electricity industry to maintain current prices pending the determination of a motion challenging the proposed tariff increases.

ConsumerConnect learnt the judge made the order in a suit by the Incorporated Trustees of Human Rights Foundation against 15 respondents in the electricity industry.

The respondents are: Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC); Bureau of Public Enterprises (BPE); Nigeria Bulk Electricity Trading Company Plc; and the Minister of Power.

Joined as respondents in the suit also are Abuja, Benin, Enugu, Ikeja, Kaduna, Kano, Port Harcourt, Yola, Eko, Ibadan and Jos Electricity Distribution Companies (DisCos).

It is recalled that NERC announced on January 4 that electricity tariffs being paid by consumers would increase in April 2020.

However, the non-governmental organization, in the suit, filed an ex parte motion praying the court to stop the proposed over 40 per cent increase in electricity tariffs.

The applicants had contended that “the implementation of the purported minor review of the Multi-Year Tariff Order will create unquantifiable hardship and damage on the Nigerian electricity consumers.

“Consumers will be made to pay very high tariffs, which have been increased by over 40 per cent across the board….”

In an affidavit deposed to by Theodora Ubabunike, a lawyer, the human rights group said, “It will amount to a great injustice to impose arbitrary electricity tariffs on Nigerian electricity consumers.

“Nigerians will suffer monumental loss as many people will not be able to access power or access same at very high tariff. I know that Nigerians are entitled to access public amenities like electrical power.”

In arguing application on Monday, the applicant’s counsel, Anaje Chinedu, prayed for “an order of interim injunction restraining NERC from taking any step towards the implementation of the purported Minor Review of the Multi-Year Tariff Order 2015 and the Remittance Order 2019,” pending the hearing and determination of the motion on notice filed by the group.

Justice Hassan, nevertheless, declined to grant the ex parte application, but he ordered the parties to maintain the status quo.

He adjourned till January 20, 2020, for the hearing of the motion on notice.