Electricity providers in Nigeria are to pay N500, 000 fine for any arbitrary increment in their billings as the National Assembly in its amendment of the Utility Charges Commission Act yesterday made provision for that as against N10, 000 it was before.
The Senate and the House of Representatives, yesterday, agreed that electricity service providers that breached the act in this regard upon trial and conviction in law court must pay the fine. As from the commencement of this Act, a scheduled utility intending to vary or increase its charges, tariff or rates shall first seek the commission’s approval for such permissible increase. A person who contravenes the provisions of sub section one of this section commits an offence under this Act and is liable on conviction to a fine of N10, 000
The development followed the concurrence of the Senate with the House of Representatives on a bill to amend the Utility Charges Commission Act, 2004. In his lead debate on the bill, the Deputy Senate Leader, Bala Ibn Na’Allah (APC Kebbi South),explained that the amendment was in line with current realities, saying the commission as the regulatory agency of the services being provided, must be informed before any hike in tariff by the service providers.
Provisions amended in the previous law include Sections 7 (2), 11 (5), 13 (2) upon which the 4,900 per cent increment of fine was made. Aside the bill on amendment of Utilities Charges Commission Act, the Senate also concurred to 11 other bills passed by the House of Representatives which include, Defence Space Agency Bill, Agricultural CreditScheme Act (Amendment) Bill, University of Abuja (Amendment) Bill, Chattered Institute of Stock Brokers Act (Amendment) Bill. Others are, Treaty to Establish African Economic Community Relating to Pan African Parliament Bill, Utilities Charges Commission Act (Amendment) Bill, National Judicial Institute Act (Amendment) Bill, Endangered Species Act (Amendment) Bill, Quantity Surveyors Act (Amendment) Bill, Advertising Practitioners Act (Amendment) Bill, Corrupt Practices and other Related Offences Act (Amendment) Bill and Small and Medium Scale Enterprises Development Agency (Amendment) Bill.
Meanwhile, the Senate has referred the screening of nominees to the Board of the Nigerian Communications Commission, NCC, to its Committee on Communications. Those to be screened include: Olabiyi Durojaiye (Chairman); Sunday Dare (Executive Commissioner, Stakeholders Management); Aliyu Abubakar (Non- Executive Commissioner); Clement Baiye (Non- Executive Commissioner); Okoi Obia (Non-Executive Commissioner); Ezekiel Yissa (Non-Executive Commissioner) and Ifeanyi Ararume (Non-Executive Commissioner).