Justice Muslim Hassan of the Federal High Court in Lagos has order the Nigeria Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) and Electricity Distribution Companies not to implement the proposed 40 per cent increase in electricity tariff.
Hassan directed NERC and the distribution companies to maintain status quo until the hearing and determination of a suit filed by the Incorporated Trustees of Human Rights Foundation, challenging the tariff increase. The human rights group had contended that “the implementation of the purported minor review of the Multi-Year Tariff Order will create unquantifiable hardship and damages on the Nigerian electricity consumers.
The group had also argued that consumers will be made to pay very high tariff, which has been increased by over 40 per cent across the board, which is currently being billed.”
Joined as respondents in the suit are the NERC, the Bureau of Public Enterprises, the Nigeria Bulk Electricity Trading Company and the Minister of Power.
Also joined as respondents are Abuja, Benin, Enugu, Ikeja, Kaduna, Kano, Port Harcourt, Yola, Eko, Ibadan and Jos electricity distribution companies. In an affidavit filed in support of the suit and deposed to by a lawyer, Theodora Ubabunike, the human rights group claimed that “it will amount to a great injustice to impose arbitrary electricity tariff on Nigerian electricity consumers.
It also averred that “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 an ex-parte application moved before Hassan by Anaje Chinedu, the human rights group 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.
After listening to argument from the plaintiff’s lawyer, Hassan declined granting the ex-parte application but instead ordered the parties to maintain the status quo.
The judge said: “It is hereby ordered that the status quo ante bellum shall be maintained by the parties in this suit pending the determination of the motion on notice.”
Hassan adjourned till January 20, for the hearing of the motion on notice.