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Court Declares Exorbitant Estimated Electricity Bills Illegal

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A State High Court in Ughelli, Delta State, has declared as “wrongful” and “illegal,” the issuance of ‘very high and exorbitant’ estimated electricity bills to residents of Ughelli town by the Benin Electricity Distribution Company (BEDC).
The court judgment was delivered on March 8.
The judge, J. Edun, declared that such action by the BEDC was contrary to the provisions of the law.
The claimants, Emmanuel Jewo and five others, had asked the court to declare among others that by virtue of the provisions of the Electric Power Sector Reform Act, 2005, the defendant (BEDC) was not legally empowered to issue and serve “very high, unreasonable and exorbitant” estimated electricity bills on them and other customers in Ughelli Town and environ.
They prayed the court to declare such actions by the BEDC as “wrongful, unlawful, illegal and contrary to the provisions of the law.”
They also asked the court to declare that the defendant (BEDC) has the burden to issue pre-paid meters to its customers in the community for the purpose of adequate determination of energy consumption.
The claimants further asked the court to compel BEDC to carry out mass metering, repair or replace faulty and obsolete meters within the town and a perpetual injunction restraining the defendant from disconnecting them on account of non-payment of estimated bills.
The plaintiffs had also prayed the court to direct the defendant to issue them with a pre-paid meter within one week of the judgement, review all estimated bills issued and served to them and capped their electricity bills at N2,000 monthly, until they are provided with a pre-paid meter by the defendant.
Edun, in his ruling, granted some of the claimants’ prayers.
He declared as illegal and contrary to the provisions of the law the issuance of “very high, unreasonable, and exorbitant” electricity bills on the claimants and other customers in the community.
The court directed the defendant to issue the claimants with a pre-paid meter within one month and capped the monthly electricity bills for residents of Ughelli and environ at N8,000 until prepared meters are provided.
Edun restrained the defendant from disconnecting the electricity of any of the residents of Ughelli Town without strict compliance to the law and monthly cap of N8,000 for estimated electricity billing.
Apart from Mr Jewo, other claimants in the case are Joseph Ogedegbe, Sunny Asanuvwie, E. Ayo-Okhiria (for themselves and on behalf of the Ughelli Branch of the Nigerian Bar Association) and Patience Taghwo, Jonathan Ubogun (For themselves and on behalf of numerous interested residents of Ughelli Town and environ)

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Niger Delta

112,759 Delta Pupils Write Entrance Examination Into Sec Schs

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A total of 112,759 final year pupils of public and private primary schools in Delta State sat for the 2022 entrance examination into its secondary schools at the weekend.
Permanent Secretary, Delta State Ministry of Basic and Secondary Education, Mr Augustine Oghoro, made the declaration in Asaba on Saturday while monitoring the 2022 Cognitive/placement examination.
Describing the conduct of the examination as successful, he said, “the Ministry is satisfied with the peaceful conduct of the examination at the centres visited,’’.
The Commissioner for Secondary Education,Mrs Rose Ezewu, who monitored the examination in Delta Central and some parts of Delta South, said the examination was unique as it was the foundation of the pupils’ educational pursuits.
“I am satisfied with the commitment of the pupils that sat for the examination,’’ she said.
In his remarks, the Director of Examinations, Mr Sunday Egomaguna, said Delta was committed to setting the pace in the conduct of examinations.
Also speaking, the proprietor of a group of private schools in Okpanam, Oshimili North Local Government Area, Mr Fidelis Egugbo, said he was optimistic about the successes of the candidates.

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Niger Delta

Udom Plans Reconciliation Of Aggrieved PDP Aspirants

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Akwa Ibom State Governor, Emmanuel Udom, has assured people of the State that he would reconcile aggrieved members of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), after the party’s primary elections.
Udom, who stated this on Sunday, while speaking with newsmen at his country home in Onna, after the State House of Assembly and House of Representatives primaries, said though delegates to the primaries were limited to recently elected ad-hoc delegates, candidates chosen were capable of ensuring a clean sweep for the party in next year’s general elections.
According to the Governor, the party remains united and strong, in spite of grievances from some members, adding that winning elections remains an act of God.
He, however, expressed confidence that all challenges confronting the party would be resolved.
“Today, I decided to obey the rules of the Electoral Act that disqualified me from being a delegate, I refused to go near the venue.
“I have come to understand that whatever comes our way, is an act of God, we cannot blame anyone.
“Akwa Ibom is PDP and PDP is Akwa Ibom, I hope to immediately set up a reconciliation committee for those of us feeling aggrieved that probably the process, today, did not favour them.
“It is an act of God and there is nothing anyone can do about it. No one in this country saw this coming.
“So, we must take it the way we have seen it, so the committee will reconcile and bring them back together,” he said.
He commended the party for the smooth conduct of the primaries.
Meanwhile, Mr Ephraim Inyangeyen, an aspirant from Akwa Ibom South Senatorial District, said a group of aspirants in the State had decided to pull out of the primaries because of the pending court issues arising from the last ad-hoc delegates election in the State.
Inyangeyen, the former Chief of Staff to the Governor, said the exercise conducted by the PDP in the State was illegal and could not be considered as a democratic exercise.
He said a group of aspirants had asked the leadership of the PDP in the State to provide a level playing ground for all aspirants, to contest and prove their popularity.
He expressed disappointment at the government for failing to provide that level playing ground, because “they were afraid to lose in a free and fair competition.
“We approached the court and an injunction was granted against the conduct of the exercise in the State.
“I remain in my house today, I don’t mind what they are doing. I am a law abiding citizen and whatever they are doing today, we would challenge it in court.
“We have asked our supporters to shun the primaries because it is being conducted on illegality,” he said.
Meanwhile, Mr Joseph Ekpeyong, the Returning officer in Esit Eket/Ibeno State Constituency, announced Udo Friday as candidate for the constituency, with 61 votes from 62 delegates.
In he same vein, the Returning Officer for Eket Federal Constituency, Mr Michael Nsang, announced Okpolupm Ette, who got 103 votes as winner of the Eket Federal Constituency, while his closest rival, Mr David Lawrence had 27 votes.
Eket Federal Constituency includes Eket, Esit Eket, Ibeno and Onna Local Government Areas.

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Niger Delta

Hold Arbitrations In Nigeria, Jonathan Tells FG

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Former President Goodluck Jonathan has faulted the hearing of arbitrations for the contracts entered by the Federal Government with International Organisations in the United Kingdom.
He made this position in Yenagoa, the Bayelsa State capital, during a launch of the book titled “Arbitration and Dispute Resolution in Nigeria”, over the weekend.
The Tide’s source reports that the book is written by King Collins Daniel, the Traditional Ruler, Abureni Kingdom, in Ogbia Local Government Area of Bayelsa State.
He also charged the bodies responsible for arbitration or resolving disputes in the country to work hard to ensure arbitration for the government contracts done in the country for proper understanding.
Jonathan explained that resolving disputes outside the court room is short, less expensive and makes people more bound to the terms morally.
According to him: “Let me use this unique opportunity to charge the bodies in this country that are responsible for either arbitration or resolving issues to work hard to ensure that arbitrations are done in Nigeria.
“Because all the contracts the Nigerian government entered with international organisations, arbitrations are always done in the United Kingdom. Can’t we do some of these arbitrations in Nigeria?
“I don’t know why it must be the United Kingdom, why it must be outside Nigeria, I think we need to work hard, so that some of these things will be done here in Nigeria.
“As non lawyers, we look at issues of resolving disputes in two different ways: one that takes place in the courtroom, and one that takes place outside the courtroom.
“We think that society is so complex, going to court for judges to settle our disputes solved all our problems because judges decide based on the facts presented to them, that is why people still get back home and start fighting.
“More especially issues like land cases and Chieftaincy cases, so I believe solving disputes outside the courtroom will be a better and shorter way than going through court processes,” he said.
The author of the book and Olila-Ebhugh of Abureni kingdom, King Daniel, said he used his experience as a legal practitioner, law teacher and a traditional ruler to write the book, to help the society on how to resolve issues properly and permanently.
According to him, dispute resolution is a key because in every society, there is bound to be dispute and the way the dispute is resolved to the satisfaction of every party brings lasting peace in the society.
King Charles Owaba, the Paramount Ruler of Ogbia Kingdom, said the traditional institution was the fundamental arbitration and dispute resolution system in Nigeria.
He commended the author for putting pen and book together to come up with such work, to settle disputes without the court.

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