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SERAP sues government over pre-paid meters, estimated billing

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A group, the Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has sued the Federal Government over illegal billing and failure to provide pre-paid meters.

Joined in the suit is the Minister of Power, Works and Housing, Babatunde Fashola.

SERAP’s Deputy Director, Timothy Adewale, filed the suit on Friday at the Federal High Court in Lagos.

The suit followed the group’s earlier request asking Fashola to urgently enforce his directives and discharge his “ministerial and statutory duty to ensure the completion of metering of all customers and abolish estimated billing in the country.”

The group accused the defendants of “collective failure, refusal and/or negligence to enforce their own directives to electricity distribution companies (DISCOs) to provide free prepaid meters and end the use of patently illegal, arbitrary, unfair and discriminatory estimated billing across the country.”

According to SERAP, the failure to implement the directive has increased the electricity cost on consumers and promoted the use of unjustifiable billing.

The group is seeking a judicial relief and an order of mandamus to compel the second respondent to enforce his directives to the DISCOs.

SERAP alleged that estimated billing had forced Nigerians to live in extreme poverty, unduly affected women, children and the elderly, as well as increased their vulnerability to discrimination.

The group argued that: “Fashola’s constitutional and statutory responsibility does not end in giving directives to DISCOs, but to decisively enforce such directives.

“The effective access to electricity, which includes metering of all consumers is the responsibility of the Federal Government, as assigned to Fashola.”

According to SERAP: “Excessive billing of customers is arbitrary, unfair, unjust, unreasonable and exploitative of the millions of socially and economically vulnerable groups.”

It expressed concern that many years after the sector was privatised, millions of households are still vulnerable to crazy bills from poor electricity supply

No date has been fixed for the hearing of the suit.



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