By Abdulwahab Abdulah
A Federal High Court sitting in Lagos has restrained Eko Electricity Distribution Company (EKEDC) from further operating a parallel account called “Eko Electricity Distribution Company Meter Account” number 2562128948 with ECOBANK Nigeria Plc until the determination of the substantive suit filed by Momas Systems Nigeria Limited, MSNL and one other.
Justice M. N. Yunusa’s order who presided over the case was sequel to the submissions canvassed by Wahab Shittu and Olawale Ajia, counsels representing MSNL and Momas Electricity Meter Manufacturing Company Limited (MEMMCOL) in a Motion Ex-Parte brought against EKEDC.
Joined as second and third respondents in the matter are Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) and ECOBANK Nigeria Plc respectively.
In their motion, the companies are claiming N5.050 billion, representing N2.050 billion as special damages and another N3 billion as general damages against the first and third respondents respectively.
Beside, the court also compelled EKEDC to direct electricity consumers in the area exclusively assigned to the applicants to pay fees for the supply and installation of meters into an Escrow CAPMI bank account controlled jointly by the applicants and the first respondent under the CAPMI Scheme called Momas/Eko Distribution CAPMI account number 5712006231 domiciled with third respondent (ECOBANK).
Expectedly, the judge held that the orders will subsist pending the hearing and determination of the Motion on Notice brought against the respondents expected to be heard next Monday.
In a 41-paragraphs affidavit in support of the motion deposed to by Chairman/Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the applicants, Engineer Kola Balogun, averred that sometime in May, 2013, the second respondent ( NERC) licensed the first and second applicants in the CAPMI Scheme, as Metering Service Providers (MSP) and also approved the participation of the companies as Metering System Vendor and as Metering System Manufacturer respectively.
He averred further that to the CAPMI guidelines, the applicants applied, made huge deposits and furnished bank guarantees to the first respondents consequent upon which it assessed and appointed the first applicant as its contractor for both supply and installation of various types of meters specifically for Island Region comprising of six business districts viz Ijora, Ojo, FESTAC, Ibeju, Island and Apapa Districts under Eko Electricity Distribution Zone.
According to him, the first respondent and the first applicant subsequently executed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU), following which he claimed the third defendant opened and maintained a joint Escrow CAPMI account at the instance and in the name of the first applicant and the first respondent, with both parties controlling the account through their respective representatives who were signatories to the account.
Balogun deposed that both parties, for sometime, operated and controlled the account titled MOMAS/Eko Distribution CAPMI account number 5712006231 domiciled with the third respondent, but contrary to the CAPMI guidelines and agreement between the parties and without prior notice or consent of his companies, the first respondent allegedly unilaterally opened and operated solely another parallel account with the third respondent under the name “Eko Electricity Distribution Company Meter Account (CAPMI) number 256218948 and to which only its management staff are signatories.
He claimed further that in breach of statutory provisions and contractual agreement between them, the first respondent allegedly directed electricity consumers within the region assigned to the applicants to pay fees for meters into the account to the knowledge and or connivance of the third respondent.
He submitted that it got to a stage where the first respondent stopped giving works orders to the applicants to supply its locally manufactured meters and only directed it to install meters imported into Nigeria by persons not licensed to operate within the applicants’ area of operation.
Balogun argued that as part of their contractual agreement, the first respondent had directed the first applicant to supply and install on weekly basis, single and three-phase smart energy meters within the Island region, which made his companies to obtain a huge bank loans and embarked on massive production of requisitioned meters, which are now lying idle in the warehouse.
The claimant explained that when he noticed the resort of the first respondent to jettison the applicants’ meters in breach of the parties’ mutual contract.