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Labour leaders urge NERC, GENCOs, DISCOs to obey court judgment on reversal of electricity tariff

By Joseph Onyekwere
16 July 2016   |   4:00 am
The leadership of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Trade Union Congress (TUC) and the Civil Society Organisations yesterday urged the National Electricity Regulatory Commission...
The President of the Nigerian Labour Congress, Ayuba Wabba PHOTO: NAN

The President of the Nigerian Labour Congress, Ayuba Wabba PHOTO: NAN

The leadership of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Trade Union Congress (TUC) and the Civil Society Organisations yesterday urged the National Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC), Electricity Generating Companies (GENCO’s) and the Electricity Distribution Dompanies (DISCO’s) to obey the judgment of the court reversing the hike in electricity tariff or face contempt charge.

Arising from a joint press conference in Lagos, NLC President, TUC president and the lawyer who handled the matter, Ayuba Wabba, Bobboi Kaigama and Toluwani Adebiyi respectively, insisted that the judgment of the court must be obeyed irrespective of the appeal against it.

“We therefore in collective voice urge the regulatory body to immediately comply with this judgment of the court, the presidency must prevail at this point in time on the regultory body, if indeed this is democratic government that respects the rules of law, the illegal hiked tariff must be reversed immediately, as we will no hesitate to bring contempt proceesings against whosoever is to comply or ensure compliance”, they stated. The group said the federal high court judgment of July 13, 2016 is a victory “for all of us, the Labour force, Trade Union, the Civil Societies and all Nigerians”, adding that the decision portrays hope for democracy, rule of law, the judiciary and the entire nation.

Justice Mohammed Idris of the Federal High Court, Lagos had on July 13 declared the upward review of electricity tariff by NERC illegal and directed the reversal to status quo. The judge also restrained the agency from further increasing the tariff except in strict compliance to the provisions of the Electricity Power Sector Reform Act 2004 (EPSRA). In a landmark judgment, Justice Idris awarded a N50,000 cost against the defendants in favour of the plaintiff.

Adebiyi had filed the suit, challenging the hike in electricity tariff. Justice Idris had on May 28, 2015, directed NERC in an interim injunction to suspend all actions relating to any increment in electricity tariff pending the determination of the suit, but the Commission went ahead and effected the review on July 1, 2015.

The upward increment in tariff was hasty and procedurally ultra vires. The review was done in a breach of existing order. This again was hasty, reckless and irresponsible. The court has the inherent jurisdiction to undo what has been done by a party in self-help. The increment in tariff by the 1st defendant while parties are before the court and there is a subsisting order for status quo is hereby declared illegal”, the judge held.