Thursday, 14 July 2016

Court Nullifies Electricity Tariff Hike

The Federal High Court, Lagos Division, on Wednesday nullified the increment in electricity tariff announced on December 21 last year by the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC).

Justice Mohammed Idris ordered NERC to revert to the former tariff and restrained it from further increasing electricity tariff “unless it complies strictly with the relevant provisions of the Electricity Power Sector Reform Act (EPSRA) 2005.”

The judge delivered the judgment in a suit filed by human rights lawyer, Mr. Toluwani Yemi Adebiyi, challenging the increment.

Justice Idris described NERC’s action as “procedurally ultra vires, irrational, irregular and illegal,” and awarded the sum of N50,000 in the plaintiff’s favour.

In deciding the substantive suit, the court relied on Sections 31, 32 and 76 of the EPSRA, and held that NERC “acted outside the powers conferred on it by the Act and failed to follow the prescribed procedure.”
The court added that NERC failed to show that it acted in due obedience to the prescribed procedures and that “there is no evidence that NERC complied with Section 76(6)(7)and (9) of the EPSRA Act.”

“Of all the legal requirements, it appeared that the only one complied with by NERC was that it announced the new tariff in the newspapers.
“It is clear from the affidavit evidence that the increase in tariff was done by NERC in defiance of the order of this court made on May 28, 2015 which directed parties in the case to maintain the status quo.
“The law is that every person upon whom an order is made by a court of competent jurisdiction must obey it, unless and until the order is discharged and set aside at the Appeal Court.
“The tariff increase from July 1, 2015 was done in breach of the ‘status quo’ order. NERC’s action was therefore clearly hasty, reckless and irresponsible,” Justice Idris said.
The judge berated NERC for breaking the law and inviting anarchy.

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