A Federal High Court sitting in Abuja yesterday cautioned the Federal Government and the National Council on Privatisation against the planned handover of the contentious Aba Ring Fenced Territory in Abia State to Aba Power Limited.
A Federal High Court sitting in Abuja yesterday cautioned the Federal Government and the National Council on Privatisation (NCP) against the planned handover of the contentious Aba Ring Fenced Territory in Abia State to Aba Power Limited (APL). Bureau of Public Enterprises (BPE) had compelled the Enugu Electricity Distribution Company (EEDC) to handover the contentious Aba ring-fenced territory in Abia state to Aba Power Limited (APL). The formal handover was scheduled to take place today at the NERC office.
However not satisfied with the development, the EEDC and Interstate Electrics Limited went to the Court asking it to stop the impending hand-over of Aba Ring Fence to Aba Power Limited. The Court presided over by Justice Gabriel Kolawole after listening to the Counsel to the plaintiffs, Prince Adetokunbo Kayode (SAN) ordered the defendants to appear before him on September 22nd to show cause why the order of injunction being sought by the plaintiffs would not be granted.
Justice Kolawole cautioned the defendants against going ahead with the planned handover of the Aba Ring Fence territory pointing out that any attempts by the defendants to interfere with the rest of the matter, which is the planned transfer of the Aba ringfenced territory, would treated as an act of disobedience to the orders of court.
In essence he directed that the status quo be maintained pending the hearing and determination of the case. The plaintiffs had through their Counsel Kayode dragged the Federal Government, the National council on Privatization, the Bureau of Public Enterprises (BPE), the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commissions (NERC), Aba Power Limited and Afrigem Integrated Utilities Ltd before the court asking for a declaration that the letter dated August 24th, 2015 captioned “Re: Handover of Aba and Ariaria Ring-Fenced Zone To Afrigem Integrated Utilities Ltd in line with supplemental lease agreement is utra vires the authority of the 3rd defendant (BPE) illegal, unlawful, null and void.
They also sought for a declaration that the plaintiffs remained the sole owner of all the distribution facilities within the Enugu Electricity Distribution Company (Enugu Disco) zone covering the entire Aba, Anambra, Enugu, Ebonyi and Imo States of Nigeria.
Other declarations sought were to the effect “that the purported lease agreement dated 28th April 2005 and the supplemental lease agreement dated August 31st 2006 are invalid, null and void. “That any attempt to transfer, alienation, assignment or alienation, in any form, of the leased or Ring-Fenced Area to the 6th defendant or any other person(s) without prior written request, and written consent of the 1stplaintiff, is illegal, ineffective, null and void. And “sn order of perpetual injunction restraining all the defendants jointly and severally from interfering with the peaceful possession of the plaintiffs”.
The Aba Power LTD and Geometric Power Limited have been engaged in a desperate tussle to excise the ring-fenced islands at Aba and Ariaria from the Enugu Distribution Company, arguing that existing agreements between the Federal Government and Aba Power Limited and Geometrics, give it the ownership of the very lucrative part of the South East electricity distribution market.
Enugu Electricity Distribution Company on the other hand, has continuously affirmed its rightful ownership of the Aba distribution area, insisting that the Aba area – Owerri-nta, Osisi Oma, Ogbor Hill, Factory Road, and Port Harcourt Road in Aba, Abia State – with its assets, is an integral part of the Enugu Disco coverage and cannot be excised.
The latest fire which the BPE appears to have stoked, may have drawn the EEDC and Geometric and Aba Power back to the trenches. The $500 million Aba power plant has capacity to produce and distribute about 141 megawatts (MW) of electricity in its first phase, with new distribution lines, four new sub-stations and three rehabilitated sub-stations.
Each plant is to produce 47 MW of power, supported by a 60 MVA transformer. But EEDC has faulted this, saying Geometric Power’s inability to comply with Article 4.(1)(1) (a) 9 years (108 months) from the effective date of the lease agreement, constitutes a fundamental breach of the lease agreement.