The Federal High Court in Lagos has ordered stakeholders in the electricity industry to maintain current prices pending the determination of a motion challenging the proposed tariff hike.
Justice Muslim Hassan fixed January 20, 2020 to hear the motion.
The judge made the order in a suit by the Incorporated Trustees of Human Rights Foundation against 15 respondents in the electricity industry.
The respondents are: Nigeria Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC); the Bureau of Public Enterprises (BPE); the Nigeria Bulk Electricity Trading Company Plc; and the Minister of Power.
Also joined as respondents are Abuja, Benin, Enugu, Ikeja, Kaduna, Kano, Port Harcourt, Yola, Eko, Ibadan and Jos electricity distribution companies.
The NERC announced on January 4 that electricity tariffs being paid by consumers will increase in April.
In its suit, the non-governmental organisation filed an ex parte motion praying the court to stop the proposed over 40 per cent increase in electricity tariff.
The applicants contended 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 per cent across the board of which is currently being billed.”
In an affidavit deposed to by Theodora Ubabunike, a lawyer, the human rights group said, “It will amount 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 same at very high tariff. I know that Nigerians are entitled to access public amenities like electrical power.”
In arguing application 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.
The judge said, “The status quo ante bellum shall be maintained by the parties in this suit pending the determination of the motion on notice.”
He adjourned till January 20, 2020 for the hearing of the motion on notice.