By Tunde Opeseitan,
A lawyer and activist, Toluwani Adebiyi has initiated contempt proceedings against the Chairman of Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC), Dr Sam Amadi over his claim that judges were frustrating reforms in the electricity sector.
The NERC chairman had made the claim in an August 7 letter to the Chief Judge of the Federal High Court, Justice Ibrahim Auta.
Amadi, who noted that the judges were ignorant of the sector, accused them of handing out improper injunctions, which could discourage investments.
The Federal High Court in Lagos had restrained NERC from increasing electricity tariff, following an ex-parte application by Adebiyi, who sought an injunction to stop NERC from raising power consumption bills without steady power for 18 hours a day.
Adebiyi filed the Form 48 on Monday, which requires Amadi to appear in court to justify his statement or risk a jail term.
The application is entitled: “Notice of consequence of derogatory, unlawful, misguided accusations of Federal High Court Judge, same which is contemptous of the integrity of the court as contained in contemnor’s letter to the Chief Judge of the Federal High Court and published on page 12 of The Nation newspapers of 18th august 2015.”
It reads: “Take notice, that unless you can substantiate and justify your accusation as contained in your letter to the Chief Judge of the Federal High Court dated 7th August, 2015, published in The Nation Newspaper of 18th August, 2015, of which you contemptuously in a very insulting and derogatory manner accused the court, casting aspersions in a way so prejudising, in a matter pending before the court, you will be guilty of contempt of Court and will be liable to be committed to prison.”
Amadi had stated that such injunctive reliefs against legitimate business operations of licensed electricity companies were not well considered.
“MY Lord, permit me to bring to your notice a subtle threat that can undermine the success of the power sector reforms. This threat is in the form of an increasing spate of seemingly reckless and inconsiderate interim injunctions that have been issued against the commission and electricity distribution companies at the instance of consumers, who have not made out clear case meriting such intervention by the court,” Amadi wrote.
But Adebiyi believes that the accusation that judges were granting “reckless and inconsiderate injunctions” was contemptuous.
To him, the NERC chair has derogatorily directed the judges to always exercise restraint and defer to his commission in the exercise of their judicial power, an act that cannot be separated from an intention to subjugate, undermine and intervene with the Judges’ lawful responsibility.
Amadi is expected to appear before Justice Mohammed Idris, who gave one of the restraining orders, on September 23.
Source : Independent