NLC: Court Reversal of Electricity Tariff Hike, a Courageous Judgment

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Paul Obi in Abuja

The Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC) wednesday described the judgment of Lagos Federal High Court reversing the 45 per cent increase of electricity tariff by the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) and the federal government as a courageous judgment in the interest of the people.

NLC President, Ayuba Wabba, said the judgment is a victory for Nigerians against arbitrariness in governance.

He said: “The Federal High Court, Ikoyi, in a landmark judgment has declared the 45 per cent tariff increase by NERC as illegal and should be reversed immediately.

“The court held that the implementation of the 45 per cent increase constitutes a violation of its interim order. The court awarded N50,000 cost against NERC.

“We at the NLC wish to state that this is a courageous and judicial judgment deserving of commendation. We also consider it victory for the ordinary Nigerian who has been crushed by exploitative bills.

“Similarly, we urge NERC and Discos to obey the judgment and revert to the old rates without further delay.

“We demand that the NERC and DISCOs observe all the conditions precedent as contained in the sales agreement before any increase be made.

“We call that the joint stakeholders on increment on electricity tariff led by the NLC in their communiqué issued in Lagos and dated January 29, 2016, had declared as follows:

The increase is illegal, unfair, unjustifiable and a further exploitation of the already exploited Nigerians; the due process in the extant laws for such an increment was not followed in consonance with Section 76 of the Power Sector Reform Act, 2005.”

Wabba said: “There has been no significant improvement in service delivery coupled with the fact that most consumers are not metered in accordance with the signed privatisation Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) of November 21, 2013 which stipulates that within 18 months gestation period, all consumers are to be metered.

“There is a subsisting court order dated May 28. 2015 by Justice Mohammed Idris of the Federal High Court, Ikoyi, Lagos, in the case of Toluwani Yemi-Adebiyi versus NERC and Ors, that there shall be no increment until the determination of the substantive suit.”

He explained that “the increment at this time negates the present biting prevailing economic recession vis-a-vis an attempt to further impoverish the poor masses.

“Accordingly, the stakeholders demanded an “immediate halt of this morbid and exploitative intention” with a warning that an observance in the breach would attract a response such as the mobilization of all Nigerians to resist the new tariff, mass protest or picketing of all Discos nationwide, and a directive to all consumers to reject any bill with the new tariff.”

The NLC President held that “in an effort to reach an amicable resolution, the NLC reached out to all the stakeholders in the sector including NERC, Discos, the Minister of Power, and the National Assembly.

“In spite of the resolution of the National Assembly demanding a reversal and restraining order by this same Federal High Court, Ikoyi, NERC and Discos went on to enforce the tariff increase, prompting a nation-wide protest on February 8, 2016.

“The protest action was suspended following the intervention by the leadership of the Senate which subsequently initiated a process of public hearing.”