• Amends Utility Charges Commission Act •Senate begins screening of NCC nominees
Omololu Ogunmade in Abuja
Henceforth, electricity distribution companies (Discos), generating companies (Gencos) and water boards, which unilaterally increase tariffs without consulting the regulatory commissions will pay a fine of N500,000 for a single offence.
This new fine, contained in the amendment to Utility Charges Commission (Amendment) Act 2004, passed by the Senate yesterday, implied 4,900 per cent increase from the existing N10,000 fine in the original Act.
The bill had earlier been passed by the House of Representatives. Speaking on the astronomical increase of the fine, Deputy Senate Leader, Ibn Na’Allah, said the amendment was done to reflect the current realities.
The sections amended to reflect the new fine in the existing law include sections 7 (2), 11 (5) and 13 (2).
As from the commencement of this Act, a scheduled Utility intending in vary or increase its charges, tariff or rates shall first seek the commision’s approval for such permissible increase.
“A person who contravenes the provisions of sub-section one of this section commits an offence under this Act and is liable on conviction to a fine of N500,000,” the amendment read.
The Senate also passed 11 other bills in concurrence with the House of Representatives. They are: Defence Space Agency Bill, Agricultural Credit Scheme Act (Amendment) Bill, University of Abuja (Amendment) Bill, Chattered Institute of Stock Brokers Act (Amendment) Bill and Treaty to Establish African Economic Community Relating to Pan African Parliament Bill.
Others are National Judicial Institute Act (Amendment) Bill, Endangered Species Act (Amendment) Bill, Quantity Surveyors Act (Amendment) Bill, Advertising Practitioners Act (Amendment) Bill, Corrupt Practices and other Related Offences Act (Amendment) Bill and Small and Medium Scale Enterprises Development Agency (Amendment) Bill.
Also yesterday, the Senate asked its Committee on Communications to commence the screening of Senator Olabiyi Durojaiye and six others as chairman-designate and prospective commissioners in the Nigeria Communications Commission (NCC).
The mandate was sequel to a recent letter from President Muhammadu Buhari to the Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki, urging the Senate to confirm the nominees in accordance with the provisions of the law.
Other nominees on the list besides Durojaiye are Sunday Dare, Executive Commissioner (stakeholders’ management); Aliyu Saidu Abubakar, (North-east); Clement Omeiza Baiye (North-central); Okoi Ofem Obono Obla (South-south); Pastor Ezekiel Yissa (North-central) and Senator Ifeanyi Ararume (South-east) as non-executive commissioners.