The Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission on Thursday said it would uphold the court ruling mandating it to reverse the 45 per cent increase in electricity tariffs across the country, six months after implementing the Multi Year Tariff Order 2, which brought about the hike in the tariffs.
A Federal High Court in Ikoyi, Lagos had on Wednesday reversed the 45 per cent increase in electricity tariffs by NERC and the Federal Government in a landmark judgment. The court declared that the increase was illegal and ordered that it should be reversed immediately.
The court held that the implementation of the tariff hike constituted a violation of its interim order, and awarded N50,000 cost against NERC.
This is coming as the power distribution companies said that they had appealed against the Federal High Court ruling and filed for a stay of execution.
The Acting Chief Executive Officer, NERC, Dr. Tony Akah, told our correspondent that after consulting with his legal department, the commission resolved to comply fully with the judgment before considering any other option if necessary.
He said, “We have not obtained the full court ruling so that we can study it and, of course, respect the decisions of the court and evaluate any other option, if necessary. But of course, we have strong respect for the judiciary and we will definitely comply with the ruling before considering any other option that we may decide on.
“However, I want you to know that our lawyers have not got the full copy of the ruling and we have not studied its contents, because anybody can be speculative. There are different speculations and I don’t know if anybody has seen the detailed contents of the ruling in order to evaluate and interpret.
“But that notwithstanding, NERC as a responsible institution, will and must respect the decision of the court and we are going to respect the order by the judiciary. We will also consider the advice of our legal department for any other option if necessary.”
Also reacting to the ruling, the Executive Director, Association of National Electricity Distributors, an umbrella body for the Discos, Mr. Sunday Oduntan, told our correspondent that the case was only lost at the Federal High Court.
He said the Discos had appealed the ruling and were prepared to pursue the case up to the Supreme Court if need be, adding that nothing had changed as the power firms would still go ahead to collect what they used to charge as electricity tariff.
Oduntan said, “In that case and at that level, we lost the case but we are appealing, and we have filed for a stay of execution, which means everything remains the same. We respect the court and as a lawyer, I’m a counsel in the temple of justice and respect any ruling given by any court of competent jurisdiction.
“So, we have no problem with the ruling but we are appealing it; because at that level, it is not final. For that reason, we are going on with our business without any distraction and we will continue to fight the case up all the way to the Supreme Court if need be. Therefore, in essence, nothing has changed.”
But the Nigerian Labour Congress lauded the court judgment, describing it as a courageous one and added that it was in the interest of the people and was a victory for Nigerians against arbitrariness in governance.