A Federal High Court in Lagos has again ordered that the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission be barred from hiking electricity tariff.
The court, which sat on Monday, February 29 and was presided over by Justice Mohammed Idris said that the initial order that parties maintain status quo ante bellum subsists.
Justice Idris had earlier in May 2015 ordered against the increase in electricity tariff by the NERC but while the case was ongoing, the NERC gave a public notice for the hike.
Subsequently, activist-lawyer, Toluwani Adebiyi had dragged the NERC and Chief Executives of Distribution Companies to court on charges of contempt of court.
While giving his ruling on Monday, Justice Idris said: “The order that the parties in this suit should maintain the status quo ante bellum remains valid and binding until it is set aside by a court of competent jurisdiction.”
Meanwhile, NERC’s lawyer, Anthony Idigbe (SAN) told the court that they were not formally served with the Form 48 which is a notice of consequence of disobedience of court order.
Justice Idris was in agreement with the defendant, stating that Adebiyi served them with a formal application for committal to prison for people who disobey court orders, Form 49 without properly serving the Form 48.
He said: “It is clear, in this case, that the purported issuance of the Form 49 on the defendants by the plaintiff without prior and proper service of the Form 48 is premature.”
“The issuance of Form 49 when the court is yet to hear and determine the application of the plaintiff for leave to serve Form 48 is also inappropriate.”
“In the circumstances, I hold that the defendants’ objections have merit. The Form 49 and the motion for order for committal issued by the plaintiff against the defendants are hereby set aside. The court has set aside the contempt application due to fundamental procedural irregularities.”
Justice Idris however, informed the defendants that if they failed to adhere to the orders of the court they are liable to contempt of court.