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Government to appeal ruling on electricity tariff

By Saxone Akhaine (Kaduna) and Emeka Anuforo (Abuja)
15 July 2016   |   4:05 am
Jubilation by consumers over Wednesday’s court ruling nullifying the recent electricity tariff increase has been cut short as the Federal Government says it will appeal the judgment.
Electricity Pole.

Electricity Pole.

• Discos apply for stay of execution
• MAN to meet NERC
• El-Rufai says regulator playing politics with power supply

Jubilation by consumers over Wednesday’s court ruling nullifying the recent electricity tariff increase has been cut short as the Federal Government says it will appeal the judgment of the Federal High Court in Lagos nullifying the February increment in power charges.

In fact, one of the electricity distribution companies (Discos) has already filed for a stay of execution which may immediately stall implementation of the ruling.

A senior Presidency source told The Guardian that a special meeting of the key stakeholders in the Nigerian Electricity Supply Industry (NESI) would be immediately convened to take a common position on the situation.

“But I can assure you for a fact that the judgment would be appealed in the interest of the power sector,” the source emphasised. Many of the stakeholders in the industry, including Acting Chairman/Chief Executive Officer of the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC), Dr. Anthony Akah, declined official comments, saying only that a decision on the next line of action would be taken after its legal team had studied the judgment.

“We are yet to see the full report of the judgment to guide our next line of action. We don’t know yet,” he told The Guardian.

The Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN), which has led opposition to the tariff increment, told The Guardian that it would meet with NERC on the issue.

Although details of the meeting are not clear, MAN’s president, Frank Udemba Jacobs, said:  “I will not like to comment on the high court
judgment declaring the tariff increase illegal because we are currently discussing with NERC and will hold a meeting very soon.”

But the Discos say the judgment would hurt the sector if not set aside.

Also, Kaduna State Governor, Nasir El-Rufai has said that the Federal Government should ensure that those appointed as members of NERC are technocrats without political bias in order to save the nation’s power sector from collapse.

Director of Research and Advocacy for the Association of Nigerian Electricity Distributors (ANED), the umbrella body of the nation’s power distribution companies, Sunday Oduntan, told The Guardian that the matter was not yet over.

His words: “We respect the court judgment. But we are filing for a stay of execution immediately.  The right to appeal is our constitutional right and we will pursue it to the Supreme Court if need be.  The matter is still on. We have given a notice of execution pending appeal. Until that is done, nobody should think that the matter has ended.”

Following a suit filed by a human rights lawyer, Mr. Toluwani Yemi Adebiyi, Justice Mohammed Idris of a Federal  High Court on Wednesday annulled the increment, stressing that NERC acted outside the powers conferred on it and failed to follow the prescribed procedure.

El-Rufai who spoke after attending the second edition meeting of the National Council on Power, organised by the Federal Ministry of Power, Works and Housing, with the theme: Achieving Incremental, then Stable and Uninterrupted Power” in “Kaduna yesterday told journalists: “I have appealed to the minister to ensure that people appointed to NERC are technocrats and sound people that have no political linkages. “That is the only way the sector will attract private investment and we all know that government alone cannot solve our electricity supply problems. We couldn’t solve the telecoms problems with Nigerian Telecommunications (NITEL) alone, even after sinking N7 billion dollars into it.

“We have to expand the power sector and allow private the sector to take charge as in telecoms and in a few years every Nigerian will have stable electricity.”