Landlords in Ekiti have dragged the Benin Electricity Distribution Company (BEDC) to court over alleged arbitrary billing and illegal disconnection of electricity in the state.
The News Agency of Nigeria reports that the landlords on Wednesday filed an originating summon at the Federal High Court sitting in Ado Ekiti.
The landlords, acting under the auspices of Ado Ekiti Electricity Consumers’ Association, said BEDC contravened the Electricity Reform Act 2005 which recommended that all electricity consumers must be metered after two years of connection.
The suit was filed by the Chairman of the group, Dr Ibukun Ogundipe, and four others .
Joined in the suit were BEDC as first defendant and the National Electricity Regulatory Commission(NERC) as second defendant.
The plaintiffs, through their lawyer, Mr Isaac Omolade, prayed the court for an order of mandamus compelling NERC to revoke BEDC’s operational licence for flouting regulations.
They also prayed the court to determine among other things whether BEDC going by the provision of Sections 32, 80, 81,82 and 96 were empowered to impose arbitrary charge without deferring to NERC.
The plaintiffs further sought a perpetual injunction restraining BEDC from disconnecting or imposing monthly payment more than N3,100 as contained in their prayers and deposition.
They also sought an order compelling BEDC to pay the association a sum of one million naira as general damages and another order compelling the distribution company to give prepaid meters to consumers.
The plaintiffs contended that having regards to Sections 63 and 76 that NERC was empowered by the electricity Act to determine amount to pay on electricity and that BEDC must comply with the law.
They also said the court should nullify the arrears of electricity bill owed by landlords in Ekiti as soon as they were metered, saying the charges were arbitrary and not done in tandem with the law.
The plaintiff’s lawyer told the court that the defendants had been served with all papers and that he expected them to appear for the proceeding.
“My Lord , upon filing our suit in court on March 28, we served the defendants all relevant papers.
” We even filed counter affidavits to their replies on May 3.
“The constraint we have now is that their own counter affidavits are hanging and they have not filed memoranda of apprarance and all these will have effect on the proceeding.
” We plead your lordship to give us a date that will be communicated to them for definite hearing of this suit,” he said.
In his ruling, Justice Olaniyi Kuewumi said going by the court’s records, what was filed and served on the defendants was the originating summon on which the defendants have right of reply.
“This case is adjourned to 26th June, 2019 for definite hearing and the defendants must be put on notice,” he said.