•Warns NERC, DISCOs against contempt
Justice Mohammed Idris of the Federal High Court in Lagos on Monday renewed the order barring the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) from increasing electricity tariff.
He said the order that parties maintain status quo ante bellum subsists.
“The order that the parties in this suit should maintain the status quo ante bellum remains valid and binding until it is set aside by a court of competent jurisdiction,” Justice Idris held.
He spoke while delivering ruling on a contempt proceedings initiated by activist-lawyer, Toluwani Adebiyi, against NERC chairman and Chief Executives of Distribution Companies (DISCOs).
Justice Idris first made the order last May, but while the suit was pending, NERC announced the tariff hike.
NERC’s lawyer, Chief Anthony Idigbe (SAN), and others said they were not personally served with the Form 48 (notice of consequence of disobedience of court order).
Ruling, Justice Idris agreed with the respondents and held that Adebiyi issued Form 49 (a formal application for committal to prison of a person who refuses to obey an order) without properly serving the alleged contemnors with the Form 48.
He said: “It is clear, in this case, that the purported issuance of the Form 49 on the defendants by the plaintiff without prior and proper service of the Form 48 is premature.
“The issuance of Form 49 when the court is yet to hear and determine the application of the plaintiff for leave to serve Form 48 is also inappropriate.
“In the circumstances, I hold that the defendants’ objections have merit. The Form 49 and the motion for order for committal issued by the plaintiff against the defendants are hereby set aside. The court has set aside the contempt application due to fundamental procedural irregularities.”
Justice Idris, however, said NERC and the DISCOs are still liable to be held in contempt should they continue to violate the order.