A Lagos State High Court has awarded N1 million damages against Eko Electricity Distribution Company (EKEDC) for disconnecting a consumer over unpaid bill accumulated by a previous occupant of a building.
Justice Ibidun Harrison described as unlawful EKEDC’s refusal to connect Mr. Sunday Babalola to electricity for a bill left unsettled by a former occupant of his building.
Delivering 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.
“The refusal to connect the claimant’s building to electricity is unlawful.
“The defendant (EKEDC) can refuse to connect if the unpaid bill was consumed by the claimant. “The court mandates the defendant to connect the claimant and he is entitled to damages. “Damages in the sum of N1 million is to be paid to the claimant by the defendant for the trauma which the defendant subjected the claimant, for its refusal to connect the claimant to electricity.” The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the claimant filed the suit 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.
The claimant urged the court to declare that EKEDC had no right to refuse to connect his property on Brown Road, Aguda, Surulere, Ikate, Lagos to electricity unless he paid for electricity consumed in a building on a different street.
Babalola said that he purchased the property in July 2019 from the former landlord following which he approached EKEDC to apply for prepaid meter and was told to pay for an outstanding bill of N755,000 previously owed by the former landlord.
He said: “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, the defendant, 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.”
He urged the court to declare that the N605, 000 already collected from him by the defendant which was for electricity consumed in a different property 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.
The defendant, through its lawyer, Mr Ifeanyi Ekwo, urged the court to dismiss the claimant’s claims with cost, adding that the claimant’s claims were abuse of court process.