Group Drags Fashola, FG to Court Over Pre-Paid Meters by Amaka Ilabor
Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project, SERAP, has sued the Federal Government and the Minister of Power, Works and Housing Babatunde Fashola, SAN over their failure to compel electricity distribution companies (DISCOs) to provide free prepaid meters to all Nigerians.
The group also seeks court order to compel Fashola and government end the use of patently illegal, arbitrary, unfair and discriminatory estimated billing across the country.”
In the application filed last Friday at the Federal High Court Ikoyi, SERAP is arguing that, “By failing and/or neglecting to enforce his directives to DISCOs, Mr Fashola is implicitly promoting the use of unjustifiable estimated billing, and increasing consumer costs.
“The use of estimated billing is marginalizing Nigerians living in extreme poverty, disproportionately affecting women, children and the elderly, and increasing their vulnerability to discrimination,” SERAP argued.
SERAP also argued that, “Mr Fashola’s constitutional and statutory responsibility is not just to give directives to DISCOs to provide free prepaid meters to all Nigerians but also to decisively enforce such directives and end the use of estimated billing. Effective access to electricity includes metering of all consumers. It is the responsibility of the Federal Government which has been assigned to Mr Fashola, and he cannot shy away from it.”
“Unless the reliefs sought are granted, Mr Fashola and the Federal Government will not perform their constitutional and statutory responsibilities to enforce the directives to DISCOs to provide free prepaid meters to all Nigerians. It is in the interest of justice to ensure strict enforcement of directives, deadlines and regulations on provision of free pre-paid meters to all Nigerians, and an end to estimated billing.”
The suit brought pursuant to Order 34 of the Federal High Court Rules and the inherent jurisdiction of the court, was signed by SERAP deputy director Timothy Adewale.
It followed the organization’s request to Mr Fashola asking him to “urgently enforce your directives and discharge your ministerial and statutory duty to ensure completion of metering of unmetered customers and total abolition of estimated billing in the country.”
SERAP by a letter dated 22nd May, 2017, requested Mr Fashola to urgently enforce his directives to DISCOs to provide free prepaid meters to all Nigerians and end the use of patently illegal estimated billing. But since the receipt of the letter, and up till the filing of this suit, Mr Fashola and the Federal Government have so far failed, refused and/or neglected to enforce the said directives.”