Benin DisCo drags NERC to court over plan to licence Asaba electricity distribution firm
The Benin Electricity Distribution (BEDC) has gone to court to challenge the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) over its plan to grant an operating licence to Asaba Distribution Limited (ADL) within the same jurisdiction.
Confirming the legal action against it, the commission in a statement said it has been served with the court processes on January 18, 2021, and has therefore suspended its planned adjudication on the petition initially filed by the Benin Disco.
“The court processes were served on the commission on January 18, 2021, and arrangements have been made for the defence of the suit which the commission believes is premature and has been instituted in bad faith against the overall public interest as all administrative remedies available to the parties have not been exhausted,” NERC said in a statement.
Prior to the filing of the court action, the Benin Disco had petitioned the commission on the plan issuance of a new licence to the ADL for which NERC had set January 19 for the hearing of the petition.
While setting out modalities for resolution of the issue, NERC stated that the hearing was pursuant to Section 70 (2) of the Electric Power Sector Reform Act (EPSRA).
According to the commission, it was also in line with clause 11 of the NERC Application for Licences Regulations 2010, and section 17 of NERC (Business Rules of the Commission) Regulations (Business Rules) 2006.
A three-man panel consisted of three commissioners of the regulator was set up to hear and determine the petition by Benin Disco on Tuesday, but the process was aborted by the court summon.
In suspending the sitting of the panel, the NERC said because it has been sued by the Disco, it would be in breach of the law if it continued to sit over the matter.
“The commission hereby notifies the public of the indefinite postponement of the hearing that was scheduled for January 19, 2021 for the consideration of the petition filed by Benin Electricity Distribution Plc (BEDC) against the issuance of an independent electricity distribution network (IEDN) licence to Asaba Distribution Limited (ADL).
“The hearing has been postponed because BEDC filed a suit at the Federal High Court (Suit No: FHC/ABJ/CS/36/2021) on January 15, 2021 against the commission and ADL and the suit seeks, amongst other reliefs, an order of perpetual injunction restraining the commission from granting an IEDN licence to ADL to operate within BEDC’s electricity distribution area.