Court stops NERC from increasing electricity tariff

Justice Mohammed Idris of a Federal High sitting in Lagos State, on Thursday, stopped the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) from increasing electricity tariff.

Idris dismissed the application, as he held that it was not filed within seven days as stipulated by Order 26 Rule 11 and the applicant did not seek extension of time.

This failure, according to the judge, had rendered the defendant’s application seeking to discharge the restraining order incompetent.
“The ex-parte order of this court restraining hike in electricity tariff is valid and still subsisting,” the judge held.
It would be recalled that the Chairman of NERC, Dr. Sam Amadi, had, at a press briefing in May, disclosed the plan by the commission to embark on an upward review of electricity tariff across the country effective from June 1.

A Lagos-based lawyer, Mr. Toluwani Adebiyi, had filed an ex-parte application before Justice Idris, to which the judge, on May 28, restrained NERC from going ahead with the hike.

The commission, however, filed an application seeking to discharge the restraining order, as it claimed that Adebiyi misrepresented facts before the court and misled the court to grant same.

Counsel for the NERC, Mr. George Uwechue (SAN), also argued that the applicant failed to explore and exhaust all available remedies before rushing to court.

Earlier, the judge had struck out the preliminary objection filed by NERC challenging the applicant’s locus standi to institute the action.

The judge held that the defendant breached the provisions of Order 29, Rule 4 of the court’s Civil Procedure Rules by failing to file its preliminary objection within 21 days of being served with the applicant’s originating summons.
“The learned Senior Advocate for the defendant holds the view that the provision is discretionary. I honestly and sincerely disagree with that view.

“In the circumstances, I hold that the preliminary objection was filed in breach of the rules of the court. The objection filed is therefore, in my view, incompetent and is hereby struck out,” he said.
The matter was thereafter adjourned till September 23 for hearing of the substantive suit.

Credit: Ayomide Owonibi Odekanyin/Nigerian Tribune