A Nigerian man, Ugochukwu Orakwue, a resident of Kogi state, has taken a bold step by filing a lawsuit against the Abuja Electricity Distribution Company (AEDC), seeking N50 million in general damages.
The legal action, lodged at the High Court II in Lokoja and presented to Justice Nicodemus Auwalu, alleges that the AEDC engaged in erroneous billing practices, causing financial distress and violating regulatory guidelines.
Orakwue contends that the AEDC deliberately and inaccurately billed him for electricity, opting for inflated estimated bills instead of reading his Postpaid Meter. The plaintiff’s originating summon urges the court to intervene, issuing an order to restrain the AEDC from persisting in issuing electricity bills based on estimation. Orakwue insists that the bills should accurately reflect the readings from his postpaid meter.
Central to the lawsuit is the demand for a declaration that the AEDC’s practice of billing based on estimation, rather than meter readings, infringes on the regulations established by the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC). Orakwue asserts that such actions by the AEDC are illegal, null, and void.
The lawsuit outlines key declarations sought by Orakwue, emphasizing the illegality of the AEDC’s actions and the violation of regulatory norms. These include the nullification of electricity bills issued based on estimation, the assertion that the AEDC concealed the claimant’s metered status, and the demand for a refund of N25,000 and a N3,000 reconnection fee collected coercively by the AEDC.
During a recent court hearing, the AEDC’s counsel, Mr. G.D. Dubai, informed the court that discussions had commenced with the claimant to explore an out-of-court settlement. Dubai conveyed that many of the raised issues had been forwarded to the AEDC’s headquarters in Abuja for consideration.
Acknowledging the ongoing discussions, the court decided to adjourn the case to February 22, awaiting a report on the progress of the settlement or, if necessary, the continuation of the hearing. The court’s approach indicates a willingness to explore resolutions outside a full trial, encouraging a fair and just resolution to the dispute.
Orakwue’s legal action highlights the importance of holding utility companies accountable for fair and accurate billing practices, promoting adherence to regulatory guidelines, and ensuring consumer rights are protected. As this case unfolds, it draws attention to broader issues in the energy sector and the ongoing efforts to balance the interests of service providers and consumers in Nigeria.