A suit querying the N213 billion loan handed by the Federal Government to privatised electricity companies under the Nigeria Electricity Market Stabilisation Facility (NEMSF) has been declined by Justice Adeniyi Ademola of the Federal High Court, Abuja.
Baribefi Tebira, the plaintiff, sought to restrain the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) from giving out the money, from which he said about N57.79 billion had been disbursed as at mid-February.
A lawyer, Tebira, contended among others, that the arrangement was fraudulent and meant to swindle the country. Also, he noted that the facility is a duplication of an earlier one – the N300 billion Power and Aviation Intervention Fund (PAIF) – created by the Federal Government in 2013 and from which N11.628 billion was disbursed by June 2013.
He argued that the CBN lacked the powers, under its establishment law (particularly, Section 34(c) and (d) of the CBN Act 2004), to create a loan facility of 10 years to private companies at 10 per cent.
The plaintiff urged the court to declare that the loan paid from the NEMSF by the CBN to the privatised electricity companies, which were privatised under the Public Enterprises (Privatisation and Commercialisation) Act was illegal and contrary to public policy.
Tebira sought an order of perpetual injunction restraining the CBN from further disbursing any fund by whatever name, whether NEMSF or other, to the privatised electricity generating and distribution companies under the Public Enterprises (Privatisation and Commercialisation) Act.
He prayed for an order directing the CBN to terminate and recall such facilities granted to the privatised companies under the NEMSF.
Defendants in the suit were the CBN, Ministry of Finance, Ministry of Power, Ministry of Petroleum Resources and the attorney general of the federation (AGF).
The plaintiff argued, in a supporting affidavit, that having been privatised and the companies having increased tariffs more than once and directed customers to make down payment for meters, there was no justification for the Fed Government to further hand out public funds to them.