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Lawyer files contempt action against NERC, Discos over electricity tariff hike



A lawyer and human rights activist, Toluwani Yemi Adebiyi has filed a contempt proceedings on the chairman of the Nigeria Electricity Regulatory Commission(NERC) and the chief executive officers of all electricity distribution companies (Discos)across the country over the implementation of the new electricity tariff despite a subsisting court order halting same.

Justice Mohammed Idris of a Federal High Court, Lagos had on May 28, 2015, directed NERC to suspend all actions relating to any increment in electricity tariff pending the hearing and final determination of a suit filed by the lawyer on the issue.

However, despite the subsisting court order, NERC in conjunction with the electricity distribution companies commenced implementation of the new electricity tariff on February 1, 2016.

Already, copies of Form 48 which is a notice of consequence of disobedience of court’s order have been raised against the alleged contemnors.
The application is expected to be heard on Thursday by Justice Idris.
Adebiyi, in the substantive suit, is seeking an order restraining NERC from implementing any upward review of electricity tariff without a meaningful and significant improvement in power supply at least for 18 hours in a day in most communities in Nigeria.

He also wants an order restraining NERC from foisting compulsory service charge on pre-paid meters not until “the meters are designed to read charges per second of consumption and not a flat rate of service not rendered or power not used.”
He also wants the service charge on pre-paid meters not to be enforced until there is visible efficient and reliable power supply like those of foreign countries where the idea of service charge was borrowed.
Adebiyi is further asking for an order of court mandating the NERC to do the needful and generate more power to meet the electricity use of Nigerians, adding that the needful should include and not limited to a multiple long-term financing approach, sourced from the banks, capital market, insurance and other sectors of finance to power the sector.
Finally, the lawyer is asking the court to mandate the NERC to make available to all Nigerians within a reasonable time of maximum of two years, prepaid meters as a way to stop the throat-cutting indiscriminate estimated bill and which must be devoid of the arbitrary service charge, but only chargeable on power consumed.

In an affidavit in support of the suit personally deposed to by the
applicant, the lawyer lamented that despite the motto and mission of NERC which were expressly stated as “keeping the light on and to meet the needs of Nigeria for safe, adequate, reliable and affordable electricity,” most communities in Nigeria do not get more than 30 minutes if electricity supply, while the remaining 23 hours and 30 minutes were always without light and in total darkness.

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