SERAP Sues FG & Fashola Over Inability To Share Free Pre-paid Metre To Nigerians
This is a step closer from Nigerians knowing their rights. The 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 collective failure, refusal and/or negligence to enforce their own directives to electricity distribution companies (DISCOs) to provide free prepaid meters to all Nigerians and end the use of patently illegal, arbitrary, unfair and discriminatory estimated billing across the country.
The application with suit number FHC/L/CS/906/17 was 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 also argues 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.”
SERAP further argues that, “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, wassigned by SERAP deputy director Timothy Adewale. The suit 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.”
The suit read in part:
“Access to regular electricity supply is a prerequisite for satisfying basic human needs, improving living standards, maintaining good human health, alleviating poverty and facilitating sustainable development. It’s unlawful for DISCOs to disconnect electricity supplies on the basis of unpaid estimated bills.”
“Obedience to the rule of law by all citizens but more particularly those who publicly took oath of office to protect and preserve the constitution is a desideratum to good governance and respect for the rule of law. In a democratic society, this is meant to be a norm; it is an apostasy for government to ignore the provisions of the law and the necessary rules and directives made to regulate matters”.
“Electricity provides a safe means of cooking (through electric stoves) and food preservation (refrigeration). Electricity is therefore essential to agriculture and a prerequisite for food security. Electricity can also be employed to realise the human right to access clean water. Electric power operates pumps and sanitation systems so that drinking water is within the safe physical reach of all individuals and accessible by households, educational institutions and workplaces.
“Excessive billing of customers is arbitrary, unfair, unjust, unreasonable and exploitative of millions of socially and economically vulnerable groups. The apparent failure by Mr Fashola to exercise due diligence and effective regulatory oversight on DISCOs to ensure full compliance with the directives to provide free pre-paid meters to Nigerians has denied millions of customers regular and uninterrupted access to electricity.
“For several years after the country’s power sector was privatized, millions of Nigerian households particularly the socially and economically vulnerable sectors of the population continue to complain about outrageous bills for electricity not consumed, and poor power supply from distribution companies.
“Mr Fashola has issued several directives and deadlines by both his office and through the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission for distribution companies to provide free pre-paid meters to all customers, but has failed, refused, and/or neglected to enforce the said directives, and millions of electricity users across the country remain unmetered.
“SERAP has a complaints hotline 080CALLSERAP and that by virtue of this hotline, the organization receives numerous complaints and petitions daily that electricity consumers still get estimated bills and that DISCOs have refused to provide free pre-paid meters to consumers as directed by Mr Fashola.
“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.”
SERAP is seeking therefore seeking an order of the Court granting leave to the Applicant to apply for Judicial Relief and to seek an Order of Mandamus directing and or compelling the 2ndRespondent to enforce his directives to electricity distribution companies to provide free prepaid meters to all Nigerians, and end the use of patently illegal estimated billing.
It also sought for such order or other orders as the Court may deem fit to make in the circumstance. No date has been fixed for the hearing of the suit.
Delta State Polytechnic Registrar Kidnapped By Gunmen, Car Abandoned
Gunmen suspected to be kidnappers have reportedly abducted the Registrar, Delta State Polytechnic, Ogwashi-Uku, Mr Collins Ossai Onyenwenu. It was learnt that the Onyenwenu was allegedly ambushed by arms wielding gunmen at about 4pm on Saturday along Ugiliamai/Onitcha-Ukwu road in Ndokwa East Local Government Area of the state.
The victim who was driving in a Toyota Camry was reportedly ambushed by the hoodlums and whisked from his car into a waiting car and driven in another car to unknown destination.
Lagos declares tomorrow June 12 as public holiday
The Lagos State Government on Sunday declared Monday public holiday to mark June 12 celebration in the State, saying that the State remains committed to the ideals of the annulled 1993 Presidential election.
In a statement signed by the Secretary to the State Government, Mr Tunji Bello on behalf of the State Governor, Mr Akinwunmi Ambode, the government said the holiday was in honour of the ideals which June 12, 1993 Presidential election represents being a day that the country experienced an election that was adjudged as the freest and fairest in Nigeria’s history. The Governor said 24 years after, the ideals of June 12 commemoration were worth celebrating, describing the day as one of the most defining moments of the country’s political history which has positively shaped its democratic rule. Governor Ambode said the time has come for Nigerians to go beyond the commemoration and entrench a viable democracy as a way to immortalise the late presumed winner of June 12, 1993 Presidential election, Chief M.K.O Abiola through the practice of true federalism and conduct of credible and fair elections. He said: “June 12, 1993 is a day we must not forget in the annals of our democratic history. Our present democratic experience may still be far from the ideal but we must all make concerted efforts to entrench fiscal federalism which is the only way to achieve true nationhood.” Continuing, Governor Ambode said part of the enduring lessons of June 12 election is that it imbued the patriotic and nationalistic zeal in all Nigerians to speak with one voice to make a political choice devoid of ethnic, racial or social sentiments. “On June 12, 1993, majority of Nigerians across all divides demonstrated through the ballot box that irrespective of class or ethnic sympathies, the Nigerian people are united and would always join hands to promote our unifying values,” he said. Governor Ambode said though the peoples’ hope was dashed with the annulment of the elections by the military junta, the lessons of the elections cannot be wished away despite subterranean efforts by many to do, describing June 12 as the real Democracy Day in Nigeria. “We owe it a duty to genuinely immortalize the fallen heroes of the June 12 struggle nationally and deepen our democratic values to ensure that never again will such anti-people action be allowed to take place”. He also assured that his administration remains committed to the ideals of June 12 by carrying out people-oriented programmes across the State and making life more comfortable for the people. Meanwhile, the State Government, through the office of Civic Engagement, has perfected arrangement for the annual public symposium which will hold at the De Roof, LTV 8 in Ikeja, to celebrate June 12.
SIGNED TUNJI BELLO
SECRETARY TO THE STATE GOVERNMENT JUNE 11, 2017
Sokoto Is Your Home, Tambuwal Tells Igbos
Governor Aminu Tambuwal of Sokoto State has urged Nigerians to avoid inflammatory remarks capable of causing disunity among the people.
Tambuwal spoke on Friday night against the backdrop of the ultimatum given to the Igbo by Arewa youths to leave the North, while hosting community members at an iftar session in Sokoto to break their Ramadan fast.
Addressing Igbo residents in the state, he said, “I align myself fully with the position of the northern governors, as enunciated by our chairman, Governor Kashim Shettima of Borno (State). All Nigerians must feel free to stay in any part of the country without fear of molestation.
“We have enjoyed a robust relationship with all members of the resident communities and you have no reason to fear. Sokoto is your home and it will continue to remain as such.
“I urge our youths to show restraint in making inflammatory remarks and threatening of one another. What we need now is to team up as a people to find lasting solutions to the myriad of challenges confronting us.
“We are a blessed nation and we should continue to develop our strengths so as to provide the needed leadership for Africa and the black world. So, as far as your stay is in the North and in Sokoto, do not feel threatened by anyone.”
In his remarks, a representative of the Igbo community in Sokoto, Mr. Steven Okoro, commended the state government for making all “Nigerians living in Sokoto feel at home.”
Okoro added, “We have never felt threatened in Sokoto. We and our families have stayed here in peace for hundreds of years and our relationship with all groups of people here is based on mutual trust and respect for one another.”
In the same vein, a leader of the Yoruba community in Sokoto, Abdulfatah Coker, and the Chairman of the Association of Resident Communities, Muhammad Ibrahim, said they would continue to support “constituted authorities” to deliver on their mandates and thanked Tambuwal for his open-door policy, which they said had enabled all citizens to gain unfettered access to him.