By KATO P. LADAN, Kaduna
The Administrator of National Judicial Institute, Honourable Justice
R. P. I. Bozimo has implored judges of both the Federal and States
High Courts to be proactive and expeditious in handling cases relating
to electricity crimes, giving the decisive role the power sector plays
in the nation’s socio-economic development.
The legal luminary made the assertion in Kaduna on Saturday while
declaring open, a one day interaction/interface for Judges of both the
Federal and states High Courts of North-western States titled
“Enhanced power delivery by Kaduna/Kano electricity Distribution
Companies: Jurisprudential challenges and panacea, organized by Kaduna
and Kano Electricity Distribution Companies in collaboration with the
National Judicial Institute.
Justice Bozimo identified “vandalism, energy theft and sometimes
unauthorized access to electricity facilities as the common issues
that pose threat to effective electricity distribution in the Country”
and pledged “the readiness of the judiciary to sustain the partnership
with the Discos and other critical stakeholders in order to stamp out
acts that are capable of frustrating effective disposition of
electricity related cases”.
In a goodwill message, the immediate past Chief Judge of the Federal
High Court, Justice Ibrahim N. Auta called for “concerted efforts by
all stakeholders to discourage and punish perpetrators of vandalism of
supply infrastructure and illegal connection, if stable power is to be
guaranteed by the Distribution Companies.”
According to him, “destruction of power network stifles development
and illegal connection undermines and compromises the commercial
components of the liberalized power sector as codified in the Electric
Power Sector Reform Act, ESPRA 2005. Our Judges are invited to note
that power deficits are monumentally catastrophic to economic growth
and poverty alleviation in Nigeria”.
An erstwhile Chairman of the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory
Commission, Dr. Sam Amadi who chaired one the sessions, identified
“modelling challenges and the highly ambitious expectations of
Nigerians” on the Power sector reform as some of the issues causing
impatience among the populace. He called for more patience as the
industry is just evolving and the participants are learning to play by
A University don and an Associate Professor of energy and Electricity
law from University of Lagos, Dr Yemi Oke averred that the
privatization of the power sector will open the flood gate of
litigations arising from operational and regulatory conflicts,
contractual disputes and rights infringements among participants in
the electricity market, suggesting that the court in that
circumstances will have to largely depend on what he referred to as
“experts’ determination and experts’ guidance to fairly and justly
determine such cases”.
In a paper titled “the role of judiciary in resolving power sector
disputes in Nigeria,” Dr. Oke submitted that both the Federal and
States governments share concurrence power on matters relating to
generation, transmission and distribution of electricity.
Earlier, the Managing Director/CEO of Kaduna Electric, Engr. Garba
Haruna expressed serious indignation against vandalism, energy theft
and other related electricity crimes and called for stiffer sanction
against the perpetrators of the nefarious acts.
“We are happy to see that the judiciary is giving the much needed
attention to the menace of electricity theft and vandalism,
contractual defaults including non-payment of bills by customers,
unregistered consumers, unauthorized and illegal operators acting
within our network, as well as fraudulent elements cheating
unsuspecting customers,” he said.
The participants were unanimous in their call for greater synergy
between the bench and the operators in the electricity value chain and
the need for more decisive actions against electricity crimes, as well
as long custodian penalty against perpetrators whose self-serving and
unpatriotic acts have been inhibiting the much needed development in
the nation’s power sector.
The also emphasized the imperatives of having a strong and independent
regulator devoid of interference from any outside force.