The Federal High Court in Lagos has issued an interim order restraining Ikeja Electric PLC and the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) from implementing a controversial tariff increase stipulated in the April 2024 Supplementary Order on Tariff Increase for ‘Band A’ Feeders. This ruling, delivered on Tuesday, effectively halts the application and administration of the new tariff rates published by Ikeja Electric on April 4, 2024, and the subsequent May 2024 Supplementary Order published on May 6, 2024, as it affects Rida National Plastics Limited.

Justice Chukwujeku Aneke granted the interim injunction after hearing an ex parte application submitted by Kemi Pinheiro (SAN), counsel for Rida National Plastics, accompanied by F. Giwa Esq and I. Aderibigbe Esq. The court’s decision ensures that the current tariff rates cannot be enforced until Ikeja Electric and NERC fully comply with Section 51 of the Electricity Act, 2023, and the court has heard and determined the Motion on Notice for Interlocutory Injunction.

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Rida National Plastics, the plaintiff in this case, sought judicial relief against Ikeja Electric PLC and NERC, who are listed as the first and second defendants, respectively, in the suit marked FHC/L/CS/1051/2024. The crux of the plaintiff’s argument rests on the purported irregularities in the implementation of the new tariff increase which they argue was done without proper adherence to regulatory procedures as stipulated by the Electricity Act.

Justice Aneke’s order temporarily suspends the enforcement of the payment of N20 million, which represents the outstanding balance on the electricity bill dated May 4, 2024. This bill was calculated based on the new tariff rates introduced in the April and May 2024 Supplementary Orders. The court’s ruling also precludes Ikeja Electric and NERC from imposing this balance on Rida National Plastics until the issue is resolved.

Moreover, the interim injunction provides protection for Rida National Plastics from any retaliatory actions by Ikeja Electric and NERC, specifically barring them from intimidating, threatening, or disconnecting the plaintiff’s electricity supply due to non-compliance with the disputed tariff rates.

Justice Aneke emphasized that these measures are necessary to maintain the status quo and prevent any potential harm or undue pressure on the plaintiff while the substantive issues are being resolved in court. The case has been adjourned to July 9, 2024, for the hearing of the motion on notice that was filed alongside the ex parte application.

This development underscores the ongoing tensions between electricity providers and consumers over tariff increases in Nigeria. The case filed by Rida National Plastics highlights significant concerns regarding transparency and regulatory compliance in the electricity sector. Consumers have frequently complained about sudden and steep tariff hikes which they argue are implemented without adequate consultation or consideration of their impact on businesses and households.

The court’s intervention in this matter not only provides temporary relief to Rida National Plastics but also sets a precedent for how disputes over electricity tariffs may be handled in the future. As the legal proceedings continue, stakeholders in the electricity sector will be closely monitoring the outcome, which could have broader implications for tariff regulation and consumer protection in Nigeria.

The forthcoming hearing on July 9, 2024, will be pivotal in determining whether the interim injunction will be upheld and what the final resolution of the dispute will entail. For now, the court’s decision ensures that Rida National Plastics is shielded from the immediate financial burden of the new tariff rates, allowing for a thorough examination of the legality and fairness of the imposed tariffs.