Monday, June 18,2018
A group, Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP), has sued Minister of Power, Works and Housing, Mr. Babatunde Fashola (SAN), for alleged failure to account for spending on the privatisation of the electricity sector.
In the suit filed at a Federal High Court, Lagos, SERAP is seeking to know the exact amount of post-privatisation spending on generation companies (GENCOS), distribution companies (DISCOS) and the Transmission Company of Nigeria (TCN) to date.
The group also wants government to explain the source of the money spent.
SERAP is seeking “an order for leave to apply for judicial review and an order of mandamus directing and/or compelling Fashola to provide specific details on the privatization of the electricity sector, the names of all the companies and individuals involved; and to publish widely, including on a dedicated website, any such information.”
The suit was filed following SERAP’s Freedom of Information request dated May 7, 2018 to the minister, giving him 14 days to provide some information.
Essentially, the group is seeking “information on the status of implementation of the 25-year national energy development plan, and whether the code of ethics of the privatisation process which bars members of staff of the Bureau of Public Enterprises (BPE) and members of the National Council on Privatisation (NCP) from buying shares in companies being privatized were deliberately flouted.”
The suit filed on behalf of SERAP by its counsel,. Bamisope Adeyanju, read in part: “Publishing the information requested and making it widely available to the public would serve the public interest and provide insights relevant to the public debate on the ongoing efforts to prevent and combat a culture of mismanagement of public funds, corruption and impunity of perpetrators.
“Most of the companies that won the bids had no prior experience in the power sector and little or no capacity at all to manage the sector.
The privatization of the Power Holding Company of Nigeria (PHCN) has yielded the country total darkness.
The gains of privatization have been lost through alleged corruption, manipulation of rules and disregard to extant laws and lack of transparency in the exercise.”
The group lamented that several years after the power sector was privatised, millions of Nigerian households, particularly the socially and economically vulnerable segment of the population, have continue to complain about outrageous bills for electricity not consumed, and poor power supply from distribution firms.
“Millions of Nigerians continue to be exploited through the use of patently illegal estimated billing by DISCOs.
One wonders the essence of the privatization if there has been no corresponding improvement in power for Nigerians.
“Enforcing the right to truth would allow Nigerians to gain access to information essential to the fight against corruption and provide a form of reparation to victims of grand corruption in the power sector..”
No date has been fixed for the hearing of the suit.