SERAP sues Buhari over failure to reverse unlawful electricity tariff hike

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President Muhammadu Buhari is being sued by the Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) for “failure to reverse the unlawful, unjust, and unreasonable increase in electricity tariff, and to probe the spending of public funds as “investments and bailouts” to DisCos and GenCos since 2005.”

Abubakar Malami (SAN), Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC), and the Nigeria Bulk Electricity Trading PLC are all named as respondents in the lawsuit.

In December 2022, power rates were raised across all DisCos in the nation after the NERC reportedly gave its approval. According to reports, a number of prepaid consumers have confirmed the rise. Both the NERC and the Minister of Power have declined to acknowledge or reject the increase.

SERAP is requesting the court to “compel President Buhari to urge the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission to reverse the unlawful, unjust, and arbitrary increase in electricity pricing” in the lawsuit FHC/L/CS/99/2023, which was filed last Friday at the Federal High Court, Lagos.

Additionally, SERAP is requesting that the court “compel President Buhari to direct Mr. Abubakar Malami, SAN, Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, and appropriate anti-corruption agencies, to promptly investigate the spending of public funds as investments and bailouts to DisCos and GenCos since 2005.”

SERAP is also arguing that, “the increase in electricity tariff failed to follow due process of law. It is entirely inconsistent and incompatible with the provisions of the Nigerian Constitution of 1999 [as amended], the Electric Power Sector Reform Act and the country’s international human rights obligations.”

SERAP is also arguing that, “the increase is unjustified, especially given the unreliable, inefficient and poor quality of electricity in the country. Millions of Nigerians continue to live in darkness despite the spending by governments of trillions of naira as investments and bailouts to electricity companies.”

According to SERAP, “The Federal Government has a legal responsibility to ensure transparency and accountability in how the investments and bailouts to electricity companies are spent, to reduce vulnerability to corruption and mismanagement.”

The government “has legal responsibility to effectively and gradually offer inexpensive, regular, and uninterrupted access to energy as a matter of human rights,” according to SERAP’s other claim.

The lawsuit, which was brought by SERAP’s attorneys Kolawole Oluwadare and Ms. Adelanke Aremo, stated in part that a rise in electricity prices would make the country’s terrible poverty worse and make it harder for millions of Nigerians to meet their most basic necessities.

No date has been fixed for the hearing of the suit.

 

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