A Federal High Court in Lagos has stopped the National Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC), from increasing electricity tariff.
The court has therefore ordered stakeholders in the electricity industry to maintain current prices pending the determination of a motion challenging the proposed hike.
Justice Muslim Hassan, who fixed January 20, 2020, to hear the motion made the order in a suit by the Incorporated Trustees of Human Rights Foundation against 15 respondents in the electricity industry which include Nigeria Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC); the Bureau of Public Enterprises (BPE); the Nigeria Bulk Electricity Trading Company Plc; and the Minister of Power.
Others are Abuja, Benin, Enugu, Ikeja, Kaduna, Kano, Port Harcourt, Yola, Eko, Ibadan and Jos electricity distribution companies.
It could be recalled that the NERC announced on January 4 that electricity tariffs being paid by consumers would increase in April.
This made the non-governmental organization file an ex parte motion praying the court to stop the proposed over 40 percent increase in electricity tariff.
In their contention, the applicants said that “the implementation of the purported minor review of the Multi-Year Tariff Order will create unquantifiable hardship and damages on the Nigerian electricity consumers.
“Consumers will be made to pay very high tariff, which has been increased by over 40 percent across the board of which is currently being billed.”
In an affidavit deposed to by Theodora Ubabunike, a lawyer, the human rights group said the hike amounts to a great injustice to impose arbitrary electricity tariff on Nigerian electricity consumers.
“Nigerians will suffer monumental loss as many people will not be able to access power or access the same at very high tariff. I know that Nigerians are entitled to access public amenities like electrical power.”
In his argument on Monday, the applicant’s counsel, Anaje Chinedu, prayed for “an order of interim injunction restraining NERC from taking any step towards the implementation of the purported Minor Review of the Multi-Year Tariff Order 2015 and the Remittance Order 2019,” pending the hearing and determination of the motion on notice filed by the group.
Justice Hassan declined to grant the ex parte application, but he ordered the parties to maintain the status quo.