House Of Reps Gives NERC 48-Hour Ultimatum To Reinstate Suspended Board

The House of Representatives Committee on Power, Wednesday, issued a 48-hour ultimatum to Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission, NERC, to reinstate the suspended the Board of Ibadan Electricity Distribution Company, IBEDC.

Chairman of the House Committee on Power, Daniel Asuquo, who issued the ultimatum during the investigative public hearing on the ‘Need to save Ibadan DISCO Plc’, harped on the need for the regulatory agency to desist from any act that could send wrong signals to investors.

Asuquo, who cautioned against the utilization of public fund to prosecute cases, underscored the need for all parties involved to put public interest above individual gains.

The Ibadan DISCO Board was suspended by NERC, sequel to the delay in the payment of $185.6 million facility given to Integrated Energy Distribution & Marketing Company, IEDC, obtained from a consortium of six banks that financed the acquisition of Ibadan DISCO facility and Yola DISCO respectively.

According to the document made available to the House, the facility was given to IEDC, parent company and holder of 60 percent equity of Ibadan DISCO between May 2015 and May 2016.

Sponsor of the motion further observed that the loan to IEDM’s request for the N6 billion inter-company loan was on the reasonable expectation of receiving the Yola refund within five days of approval since the claim had already been approved by President Muhammadu.

Buhari and same had been communicated to IEDM via a letter dated May 21, 2015, from BPE.

In its intervention, the Bureau of Public Enterprises, BPE, holder of 40 percent of IBEDC equity on behalf of Federal Government, wrote a letter to NERC requesting the commission to give the Bureau two weeks to resolve the matter amicably.

The commission had on June 19, 2018, issued an order No. NERC/181/2018 suspending the executive and non-executive member of IBEDC.

Asuquo, who underscored the need for NERC to maintain statusquo as directed by an Abuja Federal High Court in a suit No. FHC/ABJ/CS/665/18, noted that the House was exercising its statutory power to initiate investigation on the activities of any institution established by the Act of Parliament.

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While responding to inquiry, James Momoh, NERC chairman and Olufunke Dinneh, General Manager (Legal), argued that the commission was constrained by the ruling of the Federal High Court to maintain status quo, adding that presentation by the commission before the committee would be prejudicial.

He added that the parties were also asked to desist from any action that would meddle with the litigation.

Earlier, Asuquo had reiterated the commitment of the House to playing the role of trouble shooter in the electricity supply industry and continually work to put out fires that could threaten the growth of the industry.

“One thing that is very clear to industry stakeholders is that Nigerian Electricity Supply Industry, NESI, is now at the point where successor companies (or DISCOs) are anxiously looking to raise further capital to rehabilitate their acquired assets and to invest for the future.

“Also to be noted is that the Independent Power Producers, IPPs, are looking to consolidate their positions in the new post-reform market.

“There can be no doubt that a complicated market such as the NESI, calls for all-inclusive stakeholder engagement. This will include a robust regulatory engagement that will not only be inviting to investors but will also discourage disinvestment of any kind,” he added.