Violation Of Fundamental Human Right: Illegal Disconnection Of Electricity Supply

Violation Of Fundamental Human Right: Illegal Disconnection Of Electricity Supply

Violation Of Fundamental Human Right: Illegal Disconnection Of Electricity Supply.

By Mr.Omotosho Damilola Marvellous & Miss Osadugba Marvellous Ajijolajesu

 

Abstractct

        Electricity, is one of the basic needs of MAN in modern day. It is no gainsaying that after a house has been well structured and fashioned to dwell in, electricity is one of the important needs to be put in place given its quintessential relevance especially in our society.

       However, it is noteworthy that it is conceded that electricity is a prerequisite to optimal utility of man and society at Large; right to electricity does not savor  the same with civil and political right, perhaps because there are lesser suit on the subject matter, the masses don’t know their right or obvious reasons enunciated in this article.

      Nevertheless, it is desirable for the state social order to be founded on ideals of freedom, equality and Justice.

1 INTRODUCTION

   The Importance of electricity to man cannot be overemphasized. Electricity means the flowing motion of the electric charge. It includes many easily recognizable phenomena such as lightning, static elelectricity,  electromagnetic field and electromagnetic induction. It is a consumable product; It is a property. In the U.S ,water power rests within the exclusive control of the Federal government. Authority to dispose of property constitutionally acquired by the U.S is expressly granted to Congress S.3 of Article IV of the U.S constitution. In U.S V CHANDLER DUNBAR WATER POWER CO.229 U.S 53,72(U.S 1913),the court stated that “Congress shall have power to dispose of and make all needful rules and regulations respecting the territory or other property belonging to the United States ;and nothing in this constitution shall be so construed as to prejudice any claims of U.S or of any particular state.” It is a basic part of nature and one of our most widely used forms of energy. It is a secondary energy source, also referred to as an energy carrier, meaning that electricity is gotten from the conversion of other sources of energy, like, coal, natural gas, solar, wind, biomass, and nuclear. Notwithstanding that the sources used to generate electricity can be either renewable or non-renewable; electricity itself is neither renewable nor non-renewable.”

 It is of huge interest how this sector has totally pervaded man’s everyday living as over 100 years ago, it was practically non-existent, as “houses were lit with kerosene lamps, food cooled with iceboxes, and rooms warmed by wood or coal burning stoves.” However since its discovery, electricity has become an “essential feature for economic development”. This stems from the fact that it “affects every sphere of a nation’s economy, thus the push by both developed and developing nations to establish efficient electricity sector”.

Broadly speaking, electricity law, is a component of energy law and a subject matter or branch of public law, that provides for the regulation of the generation, transmission, distribution and supply of electricity to ultimate consumers in an efficient, competitive, coordinated and economical manner. It covers also matters relating to licensing, tariffs, rural electrification, enforcement of performance standards, consumer rights and obligations.

      Articulating about the Right ,has long history sparring more than 500 years. However, when it comes to contemporary discussion of Right ,the beginning of wisdom is widely agreed to the classification of juridical position developed by Wesley Newcomb Honfield. He was a legal scholar who sought to clarify the Law in general and the concept of rights in particular. Human rights are rights inherent to all human beings regardless of race ,sex , nationality , ethnicity ; language ,religion or any other status . For instance , Chapter IV of 1999 constitution of Federal republic of Nigeria as amended.

     The right to property means a right of ownership and ownership involves a bundles of rights. The right to use ,sell, pledge , bequeath and subject to some limitation to destroy . Primordially ,the right to own property is well recognized and acknowledged throughout the world. Many philosophers, jurists and commentators have highlighted the primacy of property rights for the orderly development and growth of the state.

  1. ELECTRICITY CONSUMER’S RIGHT AND THE CONCEPT OF ILLEGAL DISCONNECTION OF ELECTRICIY IN NIGERIA.

WHO IS AN ELECTRICITY CONSUMER ? 

A consumer  is generally defined to include any person to whom a service is rendered.  However, one of  the principal laws regulating electricity law in Nigeria which is Electricity Power Sector Reform Act(EPSRA)  in section 10(1) provides that: 

“‘consumer’ means any end user of electricity who is a customer of a distribution licensee that is not an eligible customer  and, for purposes of filing a complainant with the Commission and for any other reason that the Commission may determine, a person who is temporarily disconnected or otherwise without service, provided that a person who has applied for, but has yet to receive, service shall also be deemed to be a consumer.”

This definition is obviously confusing and is only clear to the extent of describing a consumer as “an end user of electricity who is a customer of a distribution licensee that is not an eligible customer.” Even the meaning of an “eligible customer” which is a customer that is eligible, pursuant to a directive or directives issued by the Minister under section 27, to purchase power from a licensee other than a distribution licensee does not help to clarify the confusion.     

More worrisome is the inelegant drafting of the second limb of the definition which has to do with filing of complainant or other matters with the Commission as this is capable of resulting into controversy of. who is an electricity consumer and who is an eligible customer in future when the Act becomes fully operational and subject to legal interpretation. Perhaps, a preferable approach would be to classify consumers into private residents, small and medium-scale businesses and industrial users with a distinctive identification or element of what constitute each.  

WHAT IS CONSUMER PROTECTION? 

Consumer protection can be said to consist of laws and organizations designed to ensure the rights of consumers as well as fair trade competition and the free flow of truthful information in the marketplace. The laws are designed to prevent businesses that engage in fraud or specified unfair practices from gaining an advantage over competitors and may provide additional protection for the weak and those unable to take care of themselves. Consumer protection laws are a form of government regulation which aims to protect the rights of consumers.

In other words, it denotes the attempt by government to provide regulatory framework to protect and enforce the rights of people who pay for goods and services. Therefore the law of consumer protection has two fold purpose— it protects the interest, rights and safety of end users of products and services , on the other hand to the extent that it derives from and relates to contractual transactions, consumer protection can be said to be a means by which private law relationships are regulated. It is in the interest of the public that the nature and deficiencies of products and services be made known to consumers. 

Consumer rights and protection laws are essential in Nigeria to check and regulate the excesses of businesses and individuals against the Nigerian consumer. Government has established specific agencies to monitor, identify and prosecute fraudulent businessmen and women.  Like the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission & Federal Competition and Consumer Protection Commission. 

BASIC RIGHTS OF ELECTRICITY CONSUMERS IN NIGERIA 

The electricity consumers enjoy some degrees of rights against the Distribution Companies(DISCOs). Unfortunately however, these rights are not being enforced or largely unknown to the consumers on the one hand and the employees of the Distribution Companies on the other hand do not care to enforce or comply with them. The EPSRA  provides a regime for the protection of electricity consumers in Nigeria.  

Therefore, by a community reading of Sections 80, 81 & 96(2)(j) of the Act, the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission is mandated to develop Regulations for Performance Standards and Codes to be followed by licensees (DISCO) in dealing with consumers. These regulations are to cover: 

(a)    customer service standards;   

(b)    customer complaint handling standards and procedures;   

(c)    codes of practice for the provision of assistance to special heeds customers, such as the blind or disabled, the elderly or severely ill;   

(d)    procedures for dealing with, and assisting where necessary, customers who have difficulty in paying bills; 

 (e) procedures for applying for electricity service;

(f) procedures for disconnecting non-paying customers or for those in breach of other terms and conditions of an applicable tariff or contract; and   

(g) the information to be provided to consumers and the manner of its dissemination;   

In this light, the Commission has made different Regulations that contain the rights of electricity consumers. These Regulations include: 

  1. Customer Service Standards Of Performance For Distribution Companies, 2007. 
  2. Connection And Disconnection Procedures For Electricity Services, 2007. 
  3. Nigerian Electricity Supply And Installation Standards Regulations 2015 
  4. Regulations On Electric Fencing In The Nigerian Power Sector, 2016
  5. Eligible Customer Regulations 2017

           The Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) is empowered by the Electric Power Sector Reform (EPSR) Act, 2005 to ensure an efficiently managed electricity supply industry that meets the yearnings of Nigerians for stable, adequate and safe electricity supply.The Act mandates the Commission to ensure that electricity Operators recover costs on prudent investment and provide quality service to customers.

To ensure quality service delivery, it is pertinent that electricity customers know their rights as follows;

  1. Right to electricity supply in a safe and reliable manner. 
  2. Right to a properly installed and functional meter. 
  3. Right to be properly informed and educated on the electricity service.  
  4. Right to transparent electricity billing. 
  5. Right to be issued with electricity bills strictly based on NERC’s estimated billing methodology where the customer is unmetered. 
  6. Right to be notified in writing ahead of disconnection of electricity service by the DisCo serving the customer in line with NERC’s guidelines. 
  7. Right to a refund when over billed. 
  8. Right to file complaints and to the prompt investigation of complaints. 
  9. Right to send all complaints on electricity supply and other billing issues to the nearest business unit of the DisCo serving the customer.  
  10. Right to escalate the issue, when not satisfactorily addressed by the business unit of the DisCo to the NERC Forum Office within the coverage area of the DISCO.
  11. Right to appeal the decision of the NERC Forum Office by writing a petition to the NERC. 
  12. Right to contest any electricity bill. 
  13. Any un-metered customer who is disputing his or her estimated bill has the right not to pay the disputed bill, but pay only the last undisputed bill as the contested bill goes through the dispute resolution process of NERC. 
  14. It is not the responsibility of electricity customer or community to buy, replace or repair electricity transformers, poles and related equipment used in the supply of electricity
  15. LEGAL STATUS : RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN FUNDAMENTAL HUMAN RIGHT AND ILLEGAL DISCONNECTION

Having asserted the above, there is a legal relationship between fundamental human rights and illegal disconnection of electricity power. The right to private property is recognized and acknowledged under International law, Regional laws and Treaties and National laws.  The Universal Declaration of Human Rights Instrument  provides that “everyone has the right to own property alone as well as in association with others. No one shall be arbitrarily deprived of his property. The African Charter on Human and People’s Right also recognized the existence and preservation of private rights to property. In Article 14, it is provided that the right of individual to property shall be guaranteed and it may not be encroached upon except in the interest of public need or in the general interest of the community and in accordance with the provisions of appropriate laws.

 At the national level, the 1999 Constitution of Nigeria provides that “subject to the provision of this constitution, every citizen of Nigeria shall have the right to acquire and own immovable property anywhere in Nigeria. Section 44 provides further that no such private property shall be compulsorily acquired by the state except on payment of prompt compensation and a right of access to court or tribunal for the determination of his interest in the property and the adequacy of compensation paid.

It is obvious from the foregoing that the right to own property including housing is not in doubt and same can be enforced against the state and any other person. But does this also translate to an enforceable right to adequate housing in the citizen against the state? This question is addressed in the next segment of this thesis.

A movable property consists of several elements inside it ranging from electricity, water to that of personal property like vehicles, money and so on. More so, Article 17 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) enshrines the right to property as follows: 

(1) Everyone has the right to own property alone as well as in association with others.

 (2) No one shall be arbitrarily deprived of his or her property.

         Relatively, right to electricity can be equated to right to own property. Therefore,when there is an illegal disconnection of electricity, quantum of section of chapter IV has been violated. It is a criminal offense upon which anyone who has Locus standi can sue for. Based on definition of illegal disconnection of electricity power, a particular element is noteworthy, which is NOT FOLLOWING THE PRODURE STATED BY ACTS.

By Procedure 5, the electricity of a customer can only be disconnected when the customer has not paid the amount CORRECTLY BILLED as at the relevant payment date, provided that before the disconnection: 

  1. Payment date is clearly shown on the bill and the disconnection date is at least 10 working days from the date the bill was delivered. 
  2. There is no conflicting payment dates given to the same customer at two different occasions over the same supply. 
  3. The time frame between the payment date and disconnection date is not less than 3 months. 
  4. Upon verification, the bill has not been actually paid. 
  5. There is a prior written warning of an impending disconnection for failure to pay by the customer .

Notably, a distribution company does not have any right to disconnect an electricity without notice and  more so, when such bills have been paid. The recent case of JOS ELECTRICITY DISTRIBUTION PLC v. BARR. DASAT LENGNAN JOHN  is illustrative on this point.

The Plaintiff, a Legal Practitioner by name Barr. John sued the Jos Electricity Distribution Plc before the High Court of Plateau State for unlawfully disconnecting his electricity without notice and despite being up to date in payment of his bills and for their failure to comply with the laid down procedures regarding disconnection of electricity supply as laid down in the Procedures. Furthermore, he sought for an order of mandamus compelling them to reconnect his electricity and claimed for the damages of 10million naira. 

The Jos Distribution Company argued that it is a private company and cannot be compelled by order of mandamus. Dispelling with this contention, the Court brilliantly stated the position of the Law as follows: 

     “By the rule pursuant to EPSRA as stated above, it is a statutory duty placed on the Appellant to issue the Respondent with the relevant notices and in the prescribed manner before proceeding to disconnect his light. This the Appellant failed to do from the avalanche of evidence on the records. The only defense put forth for this by the Appellant is that its relationship with the Respondent being contractual and it being a private enterprise was not under any public duty, and as such an order of mandamus could not be made against it. I had earlier in this judgment x-rayed the legal status of the Appellant as to its existence and functionality. As a successor company and Licensee under EPSRA, the effect of which is that the Appellant is a creation of statute and has statutory duty of providing public utility services to the public to wit: electricity supply;  I hold that the Appellant empowered by EPSRA to distribute electricity to the public including the Respondent has a duty of public nature and as such is under statutory obligation to abide its performance standards and codes; and maintain Consumer standards part of which is the service of necessary notices as mandated by the Connection and Disconnection Regulations Procedures developed by the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission pursuant to EPSRA.”

The Court further stated: 

“In the instant case, the Appellant having failed to perform a public duty imposed on it by the Act, it can be compelled by a Court of competent jurisdiction to perform that demanded act to Wit: the reconnection of the electricity supply in the residence of the Respondent which was disconnected without due process…

The Act placed a ministerial duty on the Appellant in that the requirement of issuance of notices before disconnection made by the Commission pursuant to the Act placed a non-discretionary duty on the Appellant in its performance.”

Meanwhile, at all time, a customer must be given a prior notice before disconnection BUT Procedure 6 provides for special circumstances in which electricity supply may lawfully be disconnected WITHOUT NOTIFYING THE CUSTOMER which are:   

  1. Where the Customer is connected to the Distribution Company’s network illegally  
  2. where the Distribution Company considers a customer’s installation to be dangerous to the health and or integrity of the network and /or the quality of supply to other Customers. 

Furthermore, electricity may equally be disconnected where, due to any act or omission of a Customer, a meter located in his premises is inaccessible to be read for a period of three consecutive bills . But before this can be done, the distribution company must:    

(i)    Inform the Customer by written notice or telephone contact of the inaccessibility of the meter and request him to provide access arrangement and he fails to do so ;    

(ii)    Give the Customer a written warning that unless he provides access by a given date (which shall not be less than 10 working days to enable the Customer provide reasonable access arrangement) electricity supply to the Customer shall be disconnected.    

Similarly, electricity supply of a customer can only be disconnected where the Customer refuses to provide a form of identification acceptable to the Distribution Company and/or refuses to pay security deposit requested by the Distribution Company  PROVIDED THAT:

(a)    The Distribution Company gives the Customer at least 10 working days’ notice in writing that the supply may be disconnected if he fails to provide the necessary form of identification and/or payment of the security deposit ; and  

(b)    The Customer fails to provide the required form of identification and/or security deposit within the period stipulated in the notice of disconnection.   

Be it to be noted also, that a customer on his own volition can request that electricity supply to his premises be disconnected. If this request is made, the consent of other customers (if any) in the premises where the request was made must be obtained by the Distribution Company. Hence, if this is done, a Distribution Company shall not bill the Customer for any period after the date on which the electricity supply to the premises should have been disconnected unless the request was cancelled.

HOW SHOULD A WARNING BE ISSUED BY A DISTRIBUTION COMPANY?

It is unlawful for a DisCo to barge into a customer’s premises to disconnect electricity without first writing to the supply address, even though the customer had outstanding bills before the disconnection date. The regulation said that before disconnection, the DisCo must have issued a written warning, stating specifically that the customer’s electricity supply will be disconnected, if the payment is not remitted at the appropriate date. The written warning must contain the date it was delivered to the customer’s address and a telephone number or address where the customer could call for assistance to pay the outstanding cancelled

WHEN CAN A DISCO DISCONNECT CUSTOMERS’ ELECTRICITY SUPPLY WITHOUT NOTICE?

The provision stated that a customer’s electricity supply can be disconnected without notice only on three grounds.  When  a customer is illegally connected to the DisCo’s network, the company could disconnect the power supply without notice. Also, when the customers’ installation is deemed to be dangerous to the DisCo’s network, the quality of supply to other customers, it would be justifiable to cut off the electricity supply of such customers. 

WHAT  A DISTRIBUTION COMPANY SHOULD DO WHEN A CUSTOMER’S METER CANNOT BE ACCESSED 

According to NERC’s provision, due to omission by the customer, a meter in the premises of a customer cannot be read for three consecutive times, the serving DisCo could disconnect power supply. 

The regulation stated further that this could be done only after the customer has been informed of the meter inaccessibility by written notice or telephone contact. This notification must include a request for the client to provide an access arrangement. 

Furthermore, the provision said that the DisCo should proceed to issue a warning notice to the customer, stating that unless access is granted, in not less than 10 working days, electricity will be disconnected. 

WHAT IF A CUSTOMER DOES NOT ENJOY ELECTRICITY SUPPLY ?   

The Law is that, in the first place, a Customer who does not enjoy electricity supply cannot be billed for the electricity he did not consume. This is illustrative from the case of EVANGELIST ALFRED AMBE BASSEY v. POWER HOLDING COMPANY OF NIGERIA (PHCN) & ANOR.

In this case, on or about 10th march, 1995 the Plaintiff’s meter  got burnt and the plaintiff promptly reported the incident to the PHCN’s office, but they did nothing about the report. He was further advised/instructed to surrender the burnt meter to them which he did. After this, they were still sending bills to the plaintiff in respect of the burnt meter that he surrended to the tune of  N44,609.03. He sued and the Court held:   

“The justification the PHCN can have to demand payment on the bills sent is when there is proper service delivery or actual reading of the electricity consumed. It will amount to extortion for PHCN to prepare bills based on estimated consumption and expect such bills to be settled by the consumers when they have not enjoyed their services by providing uninterrupted power supply. The time has come for the National Assembly to enact a law making it mandatory for PHCN to install pre-paid meters so that consumers can pay for the actual units of the electricity they use instead of the present unsatisfactory arrangement of billing by estimate.”

In addition, by Procedure 9,  a Customer whose electricity was disconnected is entitled to a written notice of disconnection that  contains the following:

  1. The date and time of disconnection;
  2. The reason for disconnection;
  3. The actions to be taken by the Customer to have the electricity supply reconnected and
  4. The contact address and telephone number of the Distribution Company.

CAN ELECTRICITY SUPPLY BE DISCONNECTED FOR NON PAYMENT?   

The answer is not always in the affirmative because notably , by Procedure 10(1) a Distribution 

Company shall not disconnect a customer’s supply of electricity for non-payment where; 

(a)    The Customer has paid the amount billed ; or  

(b)    The Customer has entered into a payment arrangement with the Distribution Company and payments are being made in accordance with that arrangement ; or   

(c)    The amount owed by the Customer is less than the value of his one month’s usage ; or  

(d)    The Customer has made a complaint concerning the unpaid bill in accordance with the Commission’s Customer Complaints Procedure, and the complaint remains unresolved; or  

(e)    The Customer has applied for assistance from the Power Consumer Assistance Fund or some other Customer welfare mechanism recognized by the Commission, and a decision on the application has not been made; or  

(f)    The only charge which the Customer has not paid is charge other than for the sale of energy, such as meter maintenance charge.    

Besides, Procedure 10(2) provides:

“A Distribution Company shall not disconnect electricity supply to any premises where, it is aware, that a life support machine is in use.”

By the above provision, it means a customer has an obligation to write and inform a Distribution Company that electricity supply should not be disconnected because a life support machine is in use. If this is done, the company must not disconnect such electricity. If they do and the person under the life support machine dies as a result, I am of the view that the fundamental right to life of the dead person can be enforced against the Distribution Company by his/her next of kin.

This is in line with the principle stated by  OYEWOLE, J (as he then was) in the case of SHOBAYO V. C.O.P., LAGOS STATE  wherein he held thus: 

“Insisting that only the citizen subject of an infringement can approach the Court when such right is violated would create an absurdity. This would imply the non-realization of a fundamental right expressly created by the Constitution. This is more so in relation to the right to life when already contravened, for in this case, the citizen victim of the deprivation would have been dead. Restricting redress for the violation of fundamental right to life is antithetical to the letters of the constitution and to avoid this anomaly, the next of kin of such deceased citizen must be permitted to enforce the right so allegedly deprived.”

The above position was adopted with approval by the Court of Appeal in DILLY v. I.G.P & ORS  that:   

One might ask if representation is not allowed how then can violations to right to life be redressed when the victim of the deprivation would have been dead? Right to life is in a class of its own because its violations range from attempt which is a process before full violation occurs which is when violation is completed. Before completion, the person can act for himself. When, however, such violation has gone to the irreversible stage such as death, then, such can only be litigated by a next of kin. Failure to accommodate this special class of right and its peculiarities will be against the grain of the Constitution because that is the only right that can be redressed in the absence of the possessor of the right. The right to life of a dead person can be litigated in the Court. Failure to address such violations will create a monstrous situation where infractions will continue unabated and without redress thereby reducing such fundamental right to chasing shadows or holding the wind.

The question then is, what is the consequence of a Distribution Company violating the customer’s rights in the Procedure that we have identified above?    

Procedure 11 provides for the legal regime of sanction as follows: 

“Any Distribution Company which disconnects electricity supply to a Customer’s premises in violation of this Regulation commits an offence and is liable on conviction to pay the Customer a penalty as stipulated in the below for each, or part of a day that the supply is wrongfully disconnected.”

WHAT HAPPENS WHEN A CUSTOMER’S ELECTRICITY SUPPLY IS DISCONNECTED 

The Act noted that the DisCo has an obligation to notify its customer in writing — stating the date, time and reason for the disconnection. Also, the DisCo should inform its client about steps to take for reconnection.

  1. IMPLEMENTATION IN ENFORCEMENT OF RIGHT TO ELECTRICITY

We’ve successfully treated what could actually lead to an illegal disconnection of electricity power. But without certain forces put in place for the enforcement of sugh right, could serve as a clog to the wheel of development of electricity law as a whole. Also, it is the jurisdiction of the executive to put certain techniques in place for the protection of Our right. 

The question at this point therefore is WHO CAN SUE? 

The question of who can institute an action for violation of customer’s right  arose as far back as 1993 before the Court of Appeal in the case of MR. S.A. AMADI & ORS v. ENGINEER EFFIONG A. ESSIEN.44   

In this case, the Respondent was a tenant who lives at No. 13 Obio Oko Street, Uyo. He was a tenant to Mr. Michael Abraham, the landlord. There was misunderstanding between him and five employers who were employed by NEPA. The power supply to the respondent’s residence/place of business was disconnected as a result. Therefore, he sued NEPA without joining his landlord. NEPA contended that he does not have the right to sue without his landlord in the suit who they called the “registered consumer.” The Court of Appeal disagreed with their contention that a tenant who is a direct consumer can sue without the landlord in the following words:

“In my view, it is ridiculous to contend that a person who deals directly with NEPA, pays his bills and other charges arising from disconnection and all that, cannot commence an action against the Authority, on the pretext that he was not the registered consumer. It will be a very sad day in the relationship between the 6th appellant and its numerous customers in the country for the courts to hold that a person who is directly paying the bills which are subsequently accepted by NEPA cannot in turn sue for an injury sustained by him. Let that day not come. In the light of the above position of the law I am of the firm view that the respondent has the legal right to bring the action against the appellants.”

PER NIKI TOBI JCA (of blessed memory) put in another words, if a customer is a tenant in a house, he can sue the Distribution Company without the consent of the landlord. Further confirming the right of a customer to sue, in  JOS ELECTRICITY DISTRIBUTION PLC v. BARR. DASAT LENGNAN JOHN, the Court held:

“So a consumer can successfully maintain an action against any electricity distribution company where his right has been violated. Like any other consumer, an electricity consumer enjoys consumer protection. In the present case, the Appellant, Jos Electricity Distribution PLC which has been statutorily empowered to provide electricity within the Appellant’s environs owes a public duty to its consumers.”

      Before considering what could be done in enforcing our right to electricity. There are specific and approved conditions for disconnection of a customer, like unpaid electricity bill or illegal connections. It is unlawful and illegal for any electricity Distribution Company (DisCo) to wrongfully disconnect any customer in any part of Nigeria. Where a DisCo is found guilty of wrongful disconnection, there are penalties to be paid by the DIsCo to the affected customer. The Penalties are;

  1. For Residential customer, DisCo must pay N1000.00 for each day
  2. For a Commercial customer, DisCo must pay N1,500 for each day.
  3. For an Industrial customer or Special customer, DisCo must pay N2,000 for each day.

Special customers include hospitals, clinics and military installation but does not include military barracks. NOTE, that wrongful disconnection is also a criminal offence punishable with imprisonment for not more than 21 years.

  All these aren’t sufficient enough, unless there are agencies put in place in enforcing sanctions like issuing arrest to violator, Fines, compensations, and other sanctions provided. When this right is violated, it could lead to different jeopardy. Right to Electricity must be protected and its sanctity be preserved. Strict adherence to the procedure must be ensured by the NERC.

  1. CONCLUSION

  However, It is our suggestion that electricity right can only be protected through judicial activism, as a growing field in Africa. We must sharpen and enlighten the masses as to the right on this subject matter. Right to life should not be deprived (S.33 of 1999 Constitution of Federal Republic of Nigeria as amended). Life is sacrosanct and it must be protected. We believe if there are numerous precedents on this wrongful act, no distribution company will act ultra vires. Although, there might be less number suit in relation with right to property, but it is my legal opinion that illegal disconnection of electricity supply should be charged in contravention to section 44 of 1999 constitution of Federal Republic of Nigeria as amended) . To prove the validity of my legal opinion, recourse can be made to the ruling of Per FREDERICK OZIAKPONO OHO, JCA in case of Kalgo v Hussaini & Anor Pp 45 – 48 Paras C – B).

 

WE ARE ELECTRICITY RIGHT ACTIVISTS, WE EDUCATE THE MASSES , WE FIGHT FOR THEIR RIGHT BY MEANS OF OUR PEN.

REFERENCE

-Fundamental right to property and right to housing in Nigeria – A discourse by Akintunde Kabir Otubu

– Rights of electricity consumers and regulatory framework for consumers protection under electricity law in Nigeria by Balogun Sofiyulla

– NERC ACT

– LAW DIARY ,AND SAM ATOE & COMPANY

– WIKIPEDIA

– CONSTITUTION

About us

@ OMOTOSHO DAMILOLA MARVELLOUS

 A noble student of the prestigious Faculty of law ,Adekunle Ajasin University, Akungba Akoko in Ondo state. He is a Fervid article writer on Law encompassing Scientific fields, for instance SPACE LAW, ENVIRONMENTAL LAW, ELECTRICITY LAW, ENERGY LAW AND SO ON He can be reached via omotoshomarvellous57@gmail.com

              @ OSADUGBA MARVELLOUS AJIJOLAJESU

         A noble student of the prestigious Faculty of law ,Adekunle Ajasin University, Akungba Akoko in Ondo state , she is a Fervid article writer on Law encompassing Scientific fields ,for instance SPACE LAW, ENVIRONMENTAL LAW, ELECTRICITY LAW, ENERGY LAW AND SO ON!

She can be reached via osadugbamarvellous31@hotmail.com

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Who Is My Landlord?

Who Is My Landlord?

Who Is My Landlord? By Fijero Ogheneare Continuing from the last sub-part, citizens of Nigeria have a right to acquire and own immovable property anywhere

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