A High Court in Igbosere, Lagos on Saturday, August 9, awarded N1m damages against Eko Electricity Distribution Company (EKEDC) for disconnecting a consumer over unpaid bills by the former occupant of the building.
In a ruling by Justice Ibidun Harrison, the refusal of the EKEDC to connect the customer to electricity for unpaid bills consumed by a former occupant of the building was described as ‘unlawful’.
The plaintiff/claimant, Mr. Sunday Babalola, had through an originating summons, sued EKEDC for refusal to connect his building to electricity for an outstanding bill owed by a former occupant of the building.
While delivering the judgment, Justice Harrison said: “The court finds that the claimant, who is more or less a new customer, is not entitled to pay the outstanding bill consumed by the former occupant of the building, unless there is an agreement to exonerate the former landlord of the arrears.”
Babalola had issued the originating summons via his lawyer, Mr Ademola Owolabi.
The Originating Summons was brought pursuant to Sections 81 and 96 of the Electricity Power Sector Reforms Act, 2005, and Section 2 of the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission’s Customer Service Standard of Performance for Distribution Companies, 2007.
He urged the court to declare that EKEDC had no right to refuse to connect his property at No. 7B, Brown Road, Aguda, Surulere, Ikate, Lagos to electricity; unless he pays for electricity consumed on another building, at No. 2, Adenuga St., Ikate.
Babalola explained that he purchased the property in July 2019 from the former landlord.
“Upon purchase of the property at No. 7B, Brown Road Aguda, I approached EKEDC to apply for prepaid meter; and was told to pay for an outstanding bill of N755,000 previously owned by the former landlord.
“The defendant later asked that I pay N605,000 when I explained that I was not the person who resided in the property when the bill was incurred.
“I promptly paid the said sum to the defendant, who, however, installed prepaid meter to my property; but later refused to connect me to its distribution mains; claiming that there is another bill already consumed; which I must pay before they will connect my building to electricity,” Babalola said.
He urged the court to declare that the N605,000 already collected from him by the defendant; which was for electricity consumed at No. 2, Adenuga St., Ikate; as a condition to connect his property at No. 7B, Brown St., Ikate, was illegal, null and void.
He also urged the court to order the defendant to connect his property at No. 7B, Brown Road to electricity.