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Tariff hike: NERC loses bid to stay court proceedings

By The Citizen
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Justice Mohammed Idris of a Federal High Court in Lagos on Monday rejected the prayer by the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission to stay proceedings in a suit challenging hike in electricity tariff. The suit was filed last May by a Lagos-based lawyer, Toluwani Adebiyi.

The applicant prayed the court to restrain the NERC and the other respondents in the suit from effecting any increase in electricity tariff until there has been appreciable increase in power supply to, at least, 18 hours in a day across the country.

He had on May 28, 2015, obtained an order of interim injunction barring the respondents from giving effect to their proposal to hike electricity tariff, pending the determination of the suit.

The NERC had subsequently failed in its bid to discharge the interim injunction as Justice Idris dismissed its application to that effect on July 23, 2015, for being incompetent.

The judge had also dismissed the preliminary objection filed by the respondents.

Dissatisfied with the court's decisions, the NERC had thereafter gone on appeal, after which it sought an order of the court to stay further proceedings pending the outcome of the appeal.

But in a ruling on Monday, Justice Idris turned down the application for stay of proceedings after adjudging it as lacking in merit.

The judge noted that the appeal had not been listed for hearing at the appeal court, noting that the NERC was still seeking for an extension of time to compile and transmit records of proceedings to the Court of Appeal.

Justice Idris held, 'It is clear that the applicant has an application before the court seeking for an extension of time to compile and transmit its record at the appeal court.

'There is also another motion for leave to rely on the same record of appeal in this present appeal. However, there is no indication that the application has been listed on the cause list or that it had been heard or adjourned for hearing.

'In the circumstance, this court cannot grant a stay of proceedings on an incompetent appeal which is awaiting regularisation at the appeal court.'

The judge awarded N10,000 cost against the respondents in favour of the plaintiff.

The matter was adjourned till February 29 for the court to rule on the respondents' applications seeking the dismissal of the contempt charges filed against them by the applicant. Punch