Lawrence Nwimo, Awka
Enugu Electricity Distribution Company (EEDC) has sued an Anambra State rights activist, Osita Obi, for N100m over protest against poor power supply, estimated billing and failure to supply prepaid meters to consumers.
The EEDC in a suit before Justice Nnamdi Dimgba of the Federal High Court 2, Awka , Anambra State on Wednesday, said the company was claiming N100m from the defendants as general damages.
The plaintiff (EDDC) was asking the court to declare as unlawful, the agitation and calls by the defendant that EEDC should provide pre-paid meters, stoppage of estimated billings to its customers and business community in Awka.
It alleged that “under the Electric Power Sector Reform Act number 6 of 2005 and the Regulations any complaint bordering on non-provision of pre-paid metres, excess charges and estimated bills, amounted to unlawful interference with and disruption of the plaintiff’s business.”
When the matter came up on Wednesday for hearing before Justice Dimgba, counsel for the defendant, Martin Obi, said the court had no jurisdiction to hear the matter, stating that EEDC being a private company was outside the purview of the jurisdiction of the Federal High Court as stipulated in section 251 of the 1999 Constitution (as amended)
He said, “The plaintiff is not a Federal Government Agency, the 1st defendant and other defendants are not Federal Government Agencies.
“Unlike the State High Court, which is a Court of unlimited jurisdiction, the Federal High Court is a special Court with limited but exclusive jurisdiction clearly specified under Section 251 of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.”
The defendant’s lawyer also put a counter claim, demanding N3 million compensation for his client, Osita Obi.
He said, “We humbly submit that the defendant/Applicant is entitled to cost of defending the substantive suit all the way from Federal High Court Abuja down to Enugu and now down to Awka.
“The defendant/applicant by his affidavit evidence stated how much he has spent so far in defending the substantive suit since 2019 from Abuja to Enugu and now down to this Court. He deposed to how he has suffered in the hands of the plaintiffs because of their frivolous suit.
“He specifically prayed for cost of litigation as prayer B in his motion for dismissal before this court. He also deposed in his affidavit in support how much expenses he has already incurred minding the history of the suit.
“We humbly submit that the defendant/Applicant has led evidence in proof of the expenses he incurred in defending this suit and therefore he is entitled to be awarded same by this Hon. Court in the event the Court finds that it does not have jurisdiction to entertain the suit.
“We urge the Honourable Court to dismiss the suit of the plaintiff for want of jurisdiction and award litigation cost to the 1st defendant/Applicant in-the interest of justice.”
Adjourning the matter to 22nd June, Justice Dimgba said the court would hear the case on its merit and give a composite ruling thereafter on the matter.