A Federal High Court in Lagos on Thursday reaffirmed its order restraining the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) from increasing electricity tariff.
It would be recalled that a Lagos-based lawyer, Mr Toluwani Adebiyi, had instituted the suit seeking to restrain NERC from reviewing electricity tariff upwards without significant improvement in power supply.
Delivering ruling on the defendant’s preliminary objection, Justice Mohammed Idris held that the objection did not comply with Order 29, Rule 4 of the Federal High Court Civil Procedure Rules and
struck it out.
Order 29 Rule 4 provides that such objection must be filed within 21 days after the suit was served.
“By my records, the NERC’s objection was filed outside the 21 days prescribed by the rules. In the circumstances, I hold that the preliminary objection was filed in breach of the rules of court. The objection filed is, therefore, in my view incompetent and is hereby struck out,” Justice Idris ordered.
Justice Idris also held that NERC’s application challenging the plaintiff’s motion ex-parte also failed to comply with Order 26, Rule 11 of the court.
The rule states that where a court makes an order based on a motion ex parte, any person affected by it may apply to vary or discharge it within seven days.
The judge also held that the order was made on May 28 and served on NERC on June 3, but the application to discharge the order was only filed on July 6 outside the seven days period prescribed by the rules.
“It is clear that this second application was also filed in breach of the rules of court and is also incompetent. Both applications — the preliminary objection and motion to set aside are all hereby declared incompetent and are hereby struck out. The order of court maintaining status quo remains until further order is made,” he said.
The court had restrained the respondents, including electricity distribution companies, from effecting any increment in electricity tariff earlier fixed for June 1, 2015, until the substantive suit was heard and determined.
Justice Idris adjourned the case to Sept. 23 for hearing of the substantive suit.