SERAP sues Buhari, others over electricity tariff hike
Socio- Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has sued President Muhammadu Buhari and three others at the Federal High Court, Lagos over failure to “reverse the unlawful, unjust and unreasonable increase in electricity tariff and to probe the spending of public funds as ‘investments and bailouts’ to DisCos (Distribution Companies) and GenCos (Generation Companies) since 2005.”
Joined in the suit as respondents are Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami (SAN), Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) and the Nigeria Bulk Electricity Trading Plc (NBET).
Following reported approval by the NERC, electricity tariffs were increased across DisCos last month. Several prepaid customers have supposedly confirmed the increase.
The Minister of Power and NERC have, however, refused to confirm the increment.
In the case numbered FHC/L/CS/99/2023 and filed at the weekend by its lawyers, Kolawole Oluwadare and Adelanke Aremo, SERAP is asking the court to compel Buhari to direct NERC to reverse the hike.
The rights group is also asking the court to compel Buhari to order Malami and appropriate anti-corruption agencies to promptly investigate the spending of public funds as investments and bailouts to DisCos and GenCos since 2005.
In the suit, plaintiff is arguing that regular and uninterrupted access to electricity is a fundamental human right, stating: “Electricity is an essential public service but millions of Nigerians continue to pay the price for corruption in the electricity sector – staying in darkness.”
The applicant is insisting that the hike did not follow due process of law.
SERAP continued: “It is entirely inconsistent and incompatible with the provisions of the Nigerian Constitution of 1999 (as amended), Electric Power Sector Reform Act and country’s international human rights obligations.
“The increase is unjustified, especially given the unreliable, inefficient and poor quality of electricity in the country. Millions of Nigerians continue to live in darkness despite the spending by governments of trillions of naira as investments and bailouts to electricity companies.
“The government has legal obligations to effectively and progressively provide affordable, regular and uninterrupted access to electricity as a matter of human rights.
According to the body, the Federal Government has a legal responsibility to ensure transparency and accountability in how the investments and bailouts to electricity companies are spent to reduce vulnerability to corruption and mismanagement.
The lawsuit reads in part: “The increase in electricity tariff would exacerbate the extreme poverty across the country and undermine the ability of millions of Nigerians to satisfy basic human needs.
“The consequences of corruption in the electricity sector are felt by citizens on a daily basis. Corruption exposes them to pay additional costs and crazy electricity bills. Electricity supply remains inadequate and irregular.”
No date has been fixed for hearing of the matter.