Adelabu: Predictable, Clear, Logical Judicial Precedents Critical to Success of Power Sector Reforms

Adelabu: Predictable, Clear, Logical Judicial Precedents Critical to Success of Power Sector Reforms

•Judiciary pledges to restore investors’ confidence, protect electricity consumers

Emmanuel Addeh in Abuja

The Minister of Power, Adebayo Adelabu, yesterday maintained that a strong bench which with predictable, clear and logical judicial precedents was critical to the success of recent reforms in the power sector.

Adelabu spoke at the 4th seminar for Judges in Abuja, organised by the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC). It was themed: “Reforms in the Nigerian Electricity Sector, Towards Sustainability.”

The minister argued that the legal profession had been able to achieve some successes through reforms that were geared towards sustainability, explaining that if the Nigerian power sector had received the same consistent reforms supported by required resources, it would bear more desirable results.

“The Nigerian judiciary has helped the industry with notable pronouncements and the act of the judiciary goes far in attracting private investment in the power sector.

“ In the financial services industry, we say that investments will only follow certainty; and there appears to be no greater means of providing certainty than predictable, clear and logical judicial precedent that is dispensed by a competent bench,” he stated.

The seminar, the minister said, is a laudable initiative of the commission geared towards building the capacity of the Nigerian bench towards achieving the desired objective of predictable, clear and logical judicial precedent in matters affecting the power sector.

According to him, Nigeria has started on the journey towards critical reforms in the power sector towards producing “revolutionary” results.

Stressing that prior administrations had contributed immensely in this regard, he noted that the legislative changes that had occurred in the past year had placed the sector on the path of a total paradigm shift.

“The notable legislative changes have been the amendment of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria with the granting of unfettered powers to sub-nationals to develop electricity markets within their jurisdictions and the Electricity Act 2023 that was assented to by Mr. President in the first month of his administration.

“The Electricity Act 2023, introduces far reaching features that propel market liberalisation, extend regulatory reach, and establish a more coherent policy framework that will mitigate of the operational and systemic risks in NESI.

“As we navigate our path towards a more a commercially viable electricity market that is characterised legal and contractual obligations, the imperative to understand the peculiar and nuanced nature of a regulated electricity market becomes even more imperative,” Adelabu said.

He explained that the seminar was part of the broader vision of the commission and the National Judicial Institute (NJI) to engage the members of the judiciary on important developments in the sector.

The judiciary’s pivotal role, through notable pronouncements, he said, contributes significantly to attracting private investment in the power sector.

Also speaking, the Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Kayode Ariwoola, stated that the electricity sector is one that is very important to the dear nation, explaining that it has far-reaching implications for the growth and prosperity of the country.

According to him, actions and decisions taken in courts could go a long way to shape the future of the country, especially the energy landscape as well as its economic development.

According to him, while there are issues of inadequate infrastructure and poor service, the new Electricity Act now addresses the critical issues of environmental concerns, host community management, among others.

He assured that on its part, the judiciary will continue to play its role of adjudication, upholding the rule of law and ensuring that the principles of justice are applied in all aspects of the sector.

Ariwoola added that the judiciary will thrive to restore confidence in investors and protect the rights of the customers, adding that though challenging, the problems in the sector were solvable.

In his remarks, the Chairman of NERC, Mr Sanusi Garba, stated that although the commission sometimes sits as a panel to adjudicate on disputes, the success of the new regulatory framework will partly depend on the judiciary.

Garba said that lawsuits instituted by Nigerians could and had led to delays in the progress of the electricity supply industry, stressing that those decisions could go, differently considering the risks associated with delayed enforcement of orders.

Senate Committee Chairman on Power, Enyinnaya Abaribe, in his comments, said that there was need to streamline what the new relationship between the states and NERC should be in the new law.

He urged participants to be proactive and not wait for the differences to begin to rear their heads before action is taken.

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