A Federal High Court in Lagos has re-affirmed the existing order restraining the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) from implementing any upward review of electricity tariff.
Justice Mohammed Idris, while delivering a ruling on Monday on the objections of the NERC to a contempt charge against them, asked the NERC to abide by the court order pending the hearing and final determination of a suit filed by a lawyer and rights activist, Toluwani Adebiyi, over the issue.
The plaintiff, Mr Adebiyi had sought to commit the NERC Chairman and the CEOs of the Distribution Companies (Discos) to prison for announcing the implementation of the new electricity tariff despite a subsisting court order barring same.
“Let me warn that when the disciplinary jurisdiction of this court is properly invoked, anyone who is found to have ignored the order of the court will be dealt with severely. The order of this court that parties in this suit should maintain the status quo remains valid and binding until it is set aside by a court of competent jurisdiction,” Justice Idris said in his ruling.
“The issue of disobedience to court’s order is one that affects the integrity of the court. There is a need for the court to assert its authority and deal with any issue that is capable of bringing it to disrepute. Those who intend to take the judicial system for a ride should think twice and those who have done so should retrace their steps, the long arm of the law will catch up with them no matter how long it takes,” he further stressed.
Justice Idris had earlier in his ruling set aside the Form 49 and the motion for committal to prison filed against the defendants by the plaintiff.
The judge held that the issuance of form 49 on the defendants by the plaintiff without prior and proper service of form 48 was premature.
“In the circumstance, I hold that the defendant’s objection has merit. The court has set aside the contempt application due to fundamental and procedural irregularities,” the judge said.
He adjourned till March 15 for hearing of all pending applications.