A Federal High Court, Lagos, yesterday issued an order stopping the electricity Distribution Companies (Discos) from implementing any hike in electricity tariff as directed by the Nigeria Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) pending the determination of a motion challenging it.

It would be recalled that NERC had recently directed the DisCos to raise their rates by over 70 per cent to enable them have enough capital to pay for electricity distributed by them.

Consequently, a group, the Incorporated Trustees of Human Rights Foundation approached the court and prayed it to stop the proposed tariff hike.

The group, in a suit filed before Justice Muslim Hassan, said the over 40 per cent increase in electricity tariff would create hardship for consumers.

In an affidavit deposed to by a lawyer, Mr. Theodora Ubabunik, the group said: “The implementation of the purported minor review of the multi-year tariff order will create unquantifiable hardship and damages on the Nigerian electricity consumers.

“Consumers will be made to pay very high tariff, which has been increased by over 40 per cent across the board of which is currently being billed. It will amount to a great injustice to impose arbitrary electricity tariff on Nigerian electricity consumers.

“Nigerians will suffer monumental loss as many people will not be able to access power or access same at very high tariff. I know that Nigerians are entitled to access public amenities like electrical power.”

Joined as respondents in the suit are the NERC, the Bureau of Public Enterprises (BPE), the Nigeria Bulk Electricity Trading Company Plc and the minister of power.

The others are Abuja, Benin, Enugu, Ikeja, Kaduna, Kano, Port Harcourt, Yola, Eko, Ibadan and Jos electricity distribution companies.

At the hearing of the suit yesterday, counsel to the group, Anaje Chinedu, while arguing the ex-parte application before the court yesterday, prayed for “an order of interim injunction restraining NERC from taking any step towards the implementation of the purported minor review of the Multi-Year Tariff Order 2015 and the Remittance Order 2019” pending the hearing and determination of the motion on notice filed by the group.

After listening to the arguments, Justice Hassan ordered the parties to maintain the status quo.

He declined to grant the ex parte application, but said “the status quo ante bellum shall be maintained by the parties in this suit pending the determination of the motion on notice” and adjourned till January 20, 2020 for the hearing of the motion on notice.