By Ikenna Omeje
The Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) has said that the allegation by PIPP LVI Disco Limited that the commission was notified of a pending motion for Interlocutory Injunction in Suit No. FHC/L/CS/1078/18, is baseless.
PIPP LVI through its lawyer, Wole Olanipekun, on 20 May 2019, issued a public notice in one of the national dailies, alleged that it notified NERC of a pending motion for Interlocutory Injunction prior to the order by the Commission suspending it from supplying electricity to its customers in Ikoyi, Lekki and Victoria Island.
NERC had on 15 May 2019, gave an order suspending PIPP LVI Disco Limited from supplying electricity to Ikoyi, Lekki and Victoria Island for encroaching on the distribution network of Eko Electricity Distribution Company (EkEDC) and violating the terms of the distribution licence it (PIPP) obtained from the commission.
Responding to the allegation by PIPP LVI Disco Limited, the Assistant General Manager, Public Affairs Department of NERC, Mr. Samuel Ekeh, told Nigerian NewsDirect via an e-mail that participation in the power sector demands that certain rules must be followed by the operator, which NERC as the regulator follows strictly.
”The allegation is baseless. There exist rules in relation with participation in the Power Industry and as regulators we uphold such rules of engagement strictly,” he noted.
The NERC in its ORDER NO: NERC/GL/168 which was signed by the Commission’s Chairman, Prof. James Momoh and its Commissioner for Legal, Licensing and Compliance, Mr. Dafe Akpeneye, ruled that it found PIPP culpable of breaching condition 7(1) (b) of the terms and conditions of its licence by encroaching on EkEDC’s distribution network and tampering with EkEDC’s distribution infrastructure.
”A Notice of Intention to Commence Enforcement dated 30 November 2018 was issued to PIPP by the commission, outlining PIPP’s breach of condition 7(1)(b) of the terms and conditions of its distribution licence,” NERC said.
The Commission also stated that PIPP LVI Disco Limited was notified of its failure to apply for an amendment of its licence or obtain the commission’s approval before entering into a supply arrangement and supplying power to the customers.
”The chairman of PIPP wrote a letter dated 14 December 2018 requesting for an extension till January 2019 to enable them respond to the issues raised in the NICE.
“The chairman of PIPP informed the commission that PIPP was ‘currently engaging with EKEDC with a view to finding an amicable resolution.
“The commission granted PIPP request and granted an extension till 1 February 2019 for their response to the NICE. PIPP failed to respond to the NICE by the extended deadline of 1 February 2019,” the commission said.
In addition to the suspension, the Commission said, “PIPP shall compensate EKEDC for loss of revenue for each day electricity was supplied to the customers.
“PIPP is hereby fined in accordance with section 75 of EPSRA the sum of N10, 000 for each day that electricity was supplied to the customers. The fine shall continue until the date of full compliance with this order.”
The notice from the office of the Senior lawyer informed PIPP LVI Disco Limited customers, its investors and the general public that it will follow “ the paramount requirement regulating the electricity industry in Nigeria, which is fairness in balancing the fundamental rights and interests of consumers and investors.”
Olanipekun stressed that his client (PIPP LVI Disco Limited) has an unwavering trust in the Nigerian Judiciary as the final arbiter of disputes in line with the extant laws.
“Furthermore, whilst our client will do all that is legitimately appropriate to altruistically engage the necessary regulatory agencies, it reiterates its absolute and unmitigated trust in the Nigerian Judiciary as the final and legitimately constituted arbiter of disputes referred to courts established under extant laws. Our client hopes that all agencies of the state will also accord the courts the respect and deference which the law demands and refrain from taking steps that may overreach or prejudge cases pending in court,” the notice read.
According to the notice,” Prior to the issuance of the NERC’s Order, the issues forming the basis of the same were (and are still) subject of two separate and pending suits before the Federal High Court, Lagos Judiciary Division and High Court of Lagos State respectively, namely: (a) Suit No: FHC/L/CS/1078/18between PIPP LVI Disco Limited vs. Eko Electricity Distribution Company Plc. And others; and (b) Suit No: LD/ADR/1871/2018, between PIPP LVI Disco Limited vs. Eko Electricity Distribution Company Plc.”
Nigerian NewsDirect contacted the General Manager, Corporate Communications of EKEDC, Mr. Godwin Idemudia, to confirm if there were lawsuits before any law court before the suspension order by NERC to PIPP LVI Disco Limited. He confirmed that there were pending cases , but didn’t give the Suit No of the pending cases.
He said,” Yes, in addition to the petition lodged with NERC, EKEDC was constrained to approach the law courts for injunctions to restrain the encroachment activities into its network. We are also defending some cases instituted against EKEDC. These cases are pending before the law courts.”
He was also asked if the PIPP LVI Disco Limited has suspended power supply to the affected areas as directed by NERC.
Responding he said,” EKEDC in compliance with the Commission’s Order and being a customer centric utility company, is managing as near seamless a transition as possible to minimize the discomfort and inconvenience to our esteemed and cherished customers.”