45 per cent increase in electricity tariffs will violate UN ruling-SERAP

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Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has advised

Minister of Power, Mr. Babatunde Fashola to “ensure that regulatory

authorities are not allowed to get away with 45 percent increase in

electricity tarrifs by promoting compliance with the November 2013 ruling

on the matter by two UN special rapporteurs.”
This followed a nationawide protest on Monday by the Nigeria Labour

Congress and Trade Union Congress against the increase in electricity

tariffs, demanding an immediate reversal of the hike.

In a statement today signed by SERAP executive director Adetokunbo Mumuni

the organisation said, “Nigeria is an important member of the UN and have

voluntarily accepted its Charter and treaties. Therefore, any effort to

increase electricity tarrifs should be guided by the recommendations by

the UN and dialogue with organised labour and other stakeholders.”

The organisation noted that “The United Nations published the Joint Letter

of Concern sent to the government of former President Goodluck Jonathan in

which they expressed concerns that “access to electricity (and regularity

of supply) is a significant problem in Nigeria,” and raised eight

questions for the government to answer within 60 days.”

The letter with reference No NGA 5/2013 and dated 26 November 2013, and

signed by two special rapporteurs expressed concerns that “at the end of

2012, Nigeria with a population of about 160 million people only generated

about 4,000 megawatts of electricity, which is ten times less than some

other countries in the region with less population.”

The UN special rapporteurs argued that “all beneficiaries of the right to

adequate housing should have sustainable access to energy for cooking,

heating and lighting. The failure of States to provide basic services such

as electricity is a violation of the right to health.”

The rapporteurs Ms. Magdalena Sepúlveda Carmona, Special Rapporteur on

extreme poverty and human rights and Ms. Raquel Rolnik Special Rapporteur

on adequate housing sent the letter following a petition lodged last year

by a coalition of human rights activists, labour, journalists and lawyers

led by SERAP. The petition alleged that increase in electricity tarrifs

would “have detrimental impact on the human rights of those living in

poverty in the country.”
Consequently, the special rapporteurs wanted
answers to the following questions:
1.Are the facts alleged by SERAP and others accurate?

2.What kind of impact assessments were conducted to gauge the potential

impact of the electricity tariff increases on the human rights of people

living in extreme poverty in Nigeria? If so, provide details

3.Did public consultations take place, including with potentially affected

persons and especially people living in extreme poverty? If yes, please

give details of the dates, participants and outcomes of the consultations.

4.Was accessible and culturally adequate information about the measure

actively disseminated through all available channels prior to

5.What measures have been put in place to ensure that the human rights of

people living in extreme poverty in Nigeria will not be undermined by the

increase in electricity tariffs? In particular, what measures are in place

to ensure that they can enjoy their right to adequate housing, including

sustainable access to energy for cooking, heating and lighting, which is

a component of this right?
6.Are there any accessible independent review or complaint mechanisms in

place, such as administrative mechanisms through the NERC Power Consumer

Assemblies (PCA), available for individuals to challenge the

classification of customers and/or the corresponding tariffs? If such

mechanisms exist, please give details.
7.What mechanisms exist to ensure transparency, accountability and regular

monitoring over the use of tariff revenue within the government? What

mechanisms are available to address allegations of corruption, or other

complaints? What mechanisms are in place to monitor and regulate service

provision by private actors, as required under the State's duty to

8.Please describe any existing policies or measures aimed to promote

affordability of electricity provision for people living in extreme

poverty. Are any subsidies already available and implemented? What is

being done to mitigate the hardship imposed by increased tariffs,

especially for persons living in poverty?
The special rapporteurs also wanted answers to the alleged “mismanagement

throughout the privatization process, and around 3.5 billion USD that has

been mismanaged annually over the last ten years, and a total of 16

billion USD released to improve electricity supply in the country that has

not been properly accounted for. The Business Units which have taken over

from the PHCN participate in large-scale corruption such as graft from

exorbitant consumer bills, rejection of payment to independent third

parties such as banks to keep management of funds secret, unprecedented

disconnection of consumers' power lines, general bribery and fraud amongst

staff, adding up to over NGN 1 billion extra charged to consumers

According to them, “The increases in electricity tariffs, problems with

measuring electricity usage, lack of improvement in the quality of the

service and lack of transparency in the use of funds, reportedly

disproportionately impact on those with little disposable income, as well

as exacerbate the scarcity of energy supply for those who already cannot

afford electricity even if connected to the grid.”
They pointed to Nigeria's international obligations “under various

international human rights instruments and in particular: the

International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR,

acceded to by Nigeria in 1993), the International Covenant on Civil and

Political Rights (ICCPR, ratified by Nigeria in 1993), the Convention on

the Elimination of All forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW,

ratified by Nigeria in 1985) and the African (Banjul) Charter on Human

Rights and People’s rights (ratified by Nigeria in 1983).”

“The human rights framework does not dictate a particular form of service

delivery and leaves it to States to determine the best ways to implement

their human rights obligations. However, the State cannot exempt itself

from its human rights obligations when involving non-State actors in

service provision. On the contrary, when non-State actors are involved in

service provision, there is a shift to an even stronger focus on the

obligation of the State to protect,” the special rapporteurs added.

They further argued that, “As part of its obligation to protect, the State

must safeguard all persons within their jurisdiction from infringements of

their rights by third parties. Involving non-State actors in service

provision requires, inter alia, clearly defining the scope of functions

delegated to them, overseeing their activities through setting regulatory

standards, and monitoring compliance.”
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