Olu Omotayo, an Enugu based lawyer, has sued the electricity company, the National Electricity Regulation Commission and three others over power cut.
Listed as first to fourth respondents in the suit are EEDC, Chigozie Aniwo, the Minister of Power, Works and Housing and NERC.
In suit with number FHC/EN/CS/176/2017, filed before the Federal High Court Enugu, Omotayo, the president of the Citizens Rights Realization and Advancement Network (CRRAN), is asking an order directing the 3rd defendant (the Minister of Power, Works and Housing) to commence the stipulated steps provided for under regulation 164 of the Electricity Supply Regulation (S.1.6 of 1996), to sanction the 1st Defendant (EEDC).
He is also asking for an order directing the 4th defendant to cancel the licence of the EEDC, pursuant to Order 74 of the Electric Power Sector Reform Act 2005.
The other reliefs sought are “A declaration that the plaintiff is entitled to have electricity supply reconnected to his store within 24 hours of making application to the 1st defendant and an order that the sum of N1, 500 per day from the 17th November 2017, when electricity supply was disconnected to the plaintiff store until supply is reconnected.”
Omotayo explained that the suit was filed in view of the flagrant disregard to the Provisions of the Electric Power Sector Reform Act 2005, which provides adequate protection to consumers but the reverse is the case in Southeast Nigeria as the EEDC operates in the Southeast as if there is no enabling law regulating its’ activities in the Power sector.
It would be recalled that the activities of EEDC without regard to enabling laws regulating the grant of licence to it, led to the Enugu State House of Assembly to pass a vote of no confidence on 7th April 2017, condemning over billing, of its’ customers, erratic power supply and non supply of prepaid meters, by the company.
The Enugu State House of Assembly also invited the 1st defendant to a public hearing to address the numerous complaints of the people of Enugu State but the invitation of the House was ignored with disdain by the 1st defendant.
The Abia State House of Assembly, after receiving numerous complaints from the people of Abia State also on April 13, 2017, passed a vote of no confidence in the 1st defendant over issue of overbilling, epileptic power supply and fraudulent billing of consumers by the 1st defendant, but the 1st defendant also treated the Abia State House of Assembly with ignominy.
Omotayo further explained that the 3rd defendants, the Minister for Works and Housing lost focus that the decision of the state Houses of Assembly was aimed to protect consumers and innocent citizens of Southeast but not the state government; defended the lawlessness of the 1st defendants and said the Enugu State government was indebted to the company.
The prayers were as follows: “We pray the court for the determination of the following questions:
A. Whether in view of the substantial non-compliance of the 1st defendant with the provisions of 32(1)(c) & (e) and Section 80(1)(a),(f) & (2) of the Electric Power Sector Reform Act 2005, the 4th Defendant ought not to invoke Section 74 (1) of the Electric Power Sector Reform Act 2005, and cancelled the license of the 1st Defendant or amend its’ license pursuant to section 73(1) of the Electric Power Reform Act 2005.
B. Whether by the refusal of the 1st Defendant to provide constant supply of electricity supply to the Plaintiff and the entire people of the Southeast as stipulated in Regulation 163, of the Electricity Supply Regulation(S.!.6 of 1996, with the justification by the 3rd Defendant that Enugu State government is indebted to the 1st defendant, does violate the 3rd Defendant duties to have take steps stated and provided for under Regulation 164 of the Electricity Supply Regulation, to save the Plaintiff and the entire consumers and people of southeast from lawlessness, non entertainment of complaint of consumers and fraudulent services of the 1st defendant.
C. Whether the 1st Defendant can continue to refuse to have electricity supply reconnected to the plaintiff or any consumer whatsoever after 24 hours of making application for reconnection of electricity supply is made to it pursuant to Regulation 7, of the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission’s Customer Service Standards of Performance for Distribution Companies 2007 (Federal Republic of Nigeria Official Gazette No.102, Vol. 94.
Some paragraphs of the “Affidavit Setting out Facts Relied Upon” in the suit include that the 1st defendant also deprived the residents of Isi Uzo Local Government access to electricity supply as citizens of this country since 8th June 2017, on the allegation that some youths of Eha-Amufu community in Isi-Uzo Local Government Area, came to its’ office in the local government and beat up its’ staff and damaged ladders when the youths came protesting over insensitivity of the Electricity Company in issuing residents outrageous bills that do not match their power consumption; flagrant disconnection of electricity supply, among other excesses of the company.
Also, the 1st defendant after the protest quickly went to Nkalagu sub-station and disconnected the area.
“Unfortunately, Nkalagu sub-station supplies power to many parts of Enugu state such as Isi-Uzo Local Government, Udenu Local Government, Igboeze North Local Government, Igboeze South Local Government and parts of Nsukka Local Government Area. Also affected were parts of Ebonyi, Kogi and Benue states that derive their power supply through the Nkalagu sub-station.
“All efforts made the residents of the affected areas and their leaders and well meaning Nigerians were rebuffed by the electricity company as they demanded that until N3.5 million Naira, is paid to the company for the damaged ladders, tables and chairs in the company’s’ office in the local government, electricity will not be restored to the area” Omotayo said.