The House of Representatives has asked the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) to reinstate the suspended board of Ibadan Electricity Distribution Company (IBEDC).

This was stated on Wednesday by the Chairman, House Committee on Power, Dan Asuquo, who said he was issuing a 48-hour ultimatum, during the investigative public hearing on the ‘Need to save Ibadan DISCO Plc.’

Mr Asuquo urged the regulatory agency to desist from any act that could send wrong signal to investors.

He called on all parties involved to put public interest above their individual interest, cautioning against the utilisation of public fund to prosecute cases.

The Ibadan DISCO Board was suspended by NERC for the delay in the payment of $185.6 million facility given to Integrated Energy Distribution & Marketing Company (IEDC), obtained from consortium of six banks that financed the acquisition of Ibadan DISCO facility and Yola DISCO respectively.

According to the document made available to the House, the facility was given to IEDC, parent company and holder of 60 per cent equity of Ibadan DISCO between May 2015 and May 2016.

The lawmakers said they observed that the IEDM’s request for the N6 billion inter-company loan was on the expectation of receiving the Yola refund within five days of approval since the claim had already been approved by President Muhammadu and same had been communicated to IEDM via a letter dated May 21, 2015 from the Bureau of Public Enterprises (BPE).

The BPE, holder of 40 per cent of IBEDC equity on behalf of federal government, had written a letter to NERC requesting the commission to give the bureau two weeks to resolve the matter amicably.

The commission had on the June, 19 issued an order No. NERC/181/2018 suspending the executive and non-executive members of IBEDC.

Mr Asuquo called on the electricity agency to maintain status quo as directed by an Abuja Federal High Court in a suit No. FHC/ABJ/CS/665/18.

He added that the House is exercising its statutory power to initiate investigation into activities of any institution established by the Act of Parliament.

Responding to the lawmakers, James Momoh, NERC chairman and Olufunke Dinneh, General Manager (Legal) argued that the commission is constrained by the ruling of the Federal High Court to maintain status quo, adding that presentation by the commission before the Committee will be prejudicial.

He added that the parties were also told to desist from any action that would meddle with the litigation.

The lawmakers reiterated the commitment of the House towards playing the role of troubleshooter in the electricity supply industry and continually work to “put out fires that could threaten the growth of the industry”.

“One thing that is very clear to industry stakeholders is that Nigerian Electricity Supply Industry (NESI) is now at the point where successor companies (or DISCOs) are anxiously looking to raise further capital to rehabilitate their acquired assets and to invest for the future.

“Also to be noted is that the Independent Power Producers (IPPs) are looking to consolidate their positions in the new post-reform market.”

The committee chairman added that there can be no doubt that a complicated market such as the NESI calls for all-inclusive stakeholder engagement.

He said this will include a robust regulatory engagement that will not only be inviting to investors but will discourage “disinvestment of any kind.”

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