Senate yesterday directed the National Electricity Regulatory Commission, NERC, to compel Distribution Companies, DISCOs, to abolish fixed charges they collect from electricity consumers in the country.
In a motion sponsored by Senators Sam Egwu (Ebonyi North) and David Umoru (Niger East) entitled “Unfair Trade Practices of Electricity Distribution Companies, DISCOs, in Nigeria”, the Senate also ordered NERC to probe the numerous consumers’ complaints before it in line with Section 74(1) of the Power Sector Reform Act.
It said despite all efforts by the Federal Government, there had been constant level of arbitrariness, whereby electricity consumers are charged exorbitant rates, fixed rates based on the use of the billed meters installed by the then Power Holding Company of Nigeria, PHCN.
The lawmakers noted that with the present economic situation in Nigeria, a lot of Nigerians would not be able to access electricity, a basic necessity of life.
The Upper House therefore urged the DISCOs to discontinue the practice of compulsory bulk metering of villages and communities in the rural areas as a consumer should have the right to elect to be part of bulk metering scheme or not.
It directed NERC to sensitise electricity consumers on the remedies available to them in the event of poor services by the distribution companies.
Similarly, the Senate directed the regulatory agency and the Consumer Protection Council, CPC, to mandate the DISCOs to discontinue with the practice of making consumers to pay for meters, poles and transformers which by law are properties of the distribution companies.
“But where the consumers purchase those items, they should give notice of the purchase to the companies and be entitled to recover their expenses from subsequent consumption of electricity,” it advised.
Earlier, while raising the motion, Egwu noted that NERC was established to among others license and regulate persons engaged in the generation, transmission, system operation distribution and trading of electricity.
He, however, lamented that the DISCOs, since the take off of their operations have been ripping off consumers through fixed charges and bulk metering across the country.

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…Refers Edo’s $75m foreign loan to new C’ttee
Also yesterday, the Senate referred the request of President Muhammadu Buhari for the approval of $75million World Bank loan to Edo State to the Ad-hoc Committee on Local and Foreign Debts.
At its plenary, the Upper Chamber constituted a seven-man committee and charged it to consider the request and report back to it today for further legislative input.
Members of the committee are Senator Kabiru Gaya, who is the Chairman; Senators Bukka Abba Ibrahim, David Umoru, Duro Faseyi, Emmanuel Paulker, Samuel Anyanwu and Ibrahim Abdullahi.
Buhari had requested the Senate to grant approval to the state government to obtain a loan of $75million from the World Bank.
In a letter he sent to the Senate President Abubakar Bukola Saraki, which he read on the floor on August 4, 2015, Buhari reminded the lawmakers that the World Bank had approved a development policy programme for the total sum of $225 million to for Edo in 2012, to be implemented in three tranches of $75 million per annum.
He told the Senators that the first tranche of the loan was approved by the National Assembly in the 2012-2014 Federal Government external rolling borrowing plan.
Meanwhile, five bills including National Centre for Cancer Research and Treatment Bill 2015, sponsored by Senator Mao Ohuabunwa (PDP, Abia North) passed through first reading.
Also scaling first reading were Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation Act (Amendment) Bill 2015 sponsored by Senator Babajide Omoworare (APC, Osun East) and Chartered Institute of Entrepreneurs (Establishment, etc) Bill 2015 by Senator Gobir Ibrahim (APC, Sokoto East).
The Forestry Research Institute of Nigeria (Establishment, etc) Bill 2015 sponsored by Senator Uche Ekwunife (PDP, Anambra Central) and the Electronic Transaction Bill 2015 by Senator Hope Uzodimma (APC, Imo West) passed first reading.
The Senate also considered the request of the President for the confirmation of Mr. Abdullahi Kaugama as the Resident Electoral Commissioner (Jigawa State) in the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC.
The Senate referred his confirmation to the Committee of the Whole for further legislative action.

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