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Energy theft: Judiciary, Discos, security agencies launch pact

Worried by the increasing rate of energy theft, especially in the South-East Zone, the Enugu Electricity Distribution Company, EEDC, has commenced measures to get the judiciary and the security agencies involved in checkmating the menace.

DAILY POST reports that rampart cases of energy theft and vandalism of power facilities formed major part of discus at a seminar organized by the Enugu Disco, weekend, for judicial officers, tagged ‘Judges Seminar.’

Speaking at the event, the Chief Judge of the Federal High Court, Justice Abdu Kafarati tasked judicial and law enforcement officers on need to check rampant energy theft and vandalism in electricity sector.

The seminar was themed; “Prosecution of Energy Theft, Allied Offences and Industry Related Litigation’’.

The Chief Judge noted that vadalisation, theft and sometimes unauthorised access to electricity facilities were the common threats in the sector.

He noted that these could be source of economic distress to the country that had been trying so hard to improve its power delivery.

According to him, importantly, if the judiciary is not expediently proactive, criminals will continue to exploit the vulnerable aspect of the system and other critical infrastructure.

“Indeed it is important that electricity Distribution Companies (DISCOS) partner with the Bench and other stakeholders in order to stamp out acts that are capable of frustrating the intendment of the Federal Government in privatising the power sector.

“Therefore, it is our collective responsibility to help protect investments in electricity and other key economic infrastructure in Nigeria.

“As an arm of government, the judiciary and law enforcement officers are glad to join hands with stakeholders like the Enugu DISCO and other DISCOS to ensure that this essential commodity is available to all and that investment in the sector is well protected within the ambit of the law.

“To some extent, power sector jurisprudence is a stranger to the Nigerian case law.

“This gap underscores the imperatives of judicial and law enforcement officers to be very conversant with the regime as we will always be confronted with their cases.

“The complexity and interplay of several components in the realization of the novel mandates of the DISCOS obviously attract disputes and disagreements.

“Therefore, with better information, the disputes and disagreements will be resolved expediently through your courts and institutions,’’ he said.

Earlier, Chairman of EEDC, Chief Emeka Offor, noted that the seminar was apt due to the high and alarming rate of energy theft and vandalism in the country.

Offor, who was represented by Mr Ikechukwu Okpala, noted that “within the past six months over 100 transformers had been vandalized within the company’s area of coverage’’.

“We solicit the support of judicial officers in fast adjudication of these cases in order for the judgment to act as a big deterrent to criminals pull down the sector.

“There is also a need for a set of new laws to check the present negative trend in the electricity sector,’’ he said.

In a goodwill message, the Managing Director of EEDC, Mr Okechukwu Nwosu, said that the judiciary would play a very pivotal role in addressing energy theft in the country.

“The pervasive nature of energy theft in EEDC areas of coverage is quite alarming and poses a threat to the company’s operation.

“EEDC has in the past two years embarked on a massive metering programme. However, it is disheartening to note that a very high percentage of the meters are bypassed or have their seals tampered with,’’ Nwosu said.

The seminar was attended by judges from Federal and State High Courts; magistrates, directors of public prosecutions as well as police and NSCDC officers in-charge of legal departments from the South-East.

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Easter: FAAN assures Nigerians of safety

The Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) has assured passengers and other airport users of safety during the Easter celebration.

FAAN gave the assurance in a statement signed by its General Manager, Corporate Affairs, Mrs Henrietta Yakubu, in Lagos on Wednesday, NAN reports.

Yakubu noted that all necessary facilities, infrastructure and manpower had been deployed to ensure seamless facilitation at the airports.

She added that the relevant security agencies had been mobilised to beef up security at all airports during the period.

Yakubu also advised intending travelers to endeavour to leave for the airport early enough, so as to ensure that check-in formalities are conducted in good time.

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Court takes decision on sale of 9mobile

A Federal High Court in Ikoyi, Lagos, on Wednesday dismissed a suit filed by Spectrum Wireless Communications Limited against Emerging Markets Telecommunications Services (EMTS), owners of 9mobile, challenging the sale of the company.

NAN reports that the court, Presided over by Justice CJ Aneke, in a ruling on the preliminary objections filed by counsel to EMTS, upheld that the defendant’s prayers in Suit No. FHC/L/CS/153/2018 that there was no direct shareholding relationship between Spectrum Wireless and EMTS, thereby vesting on Spectrum the right to sue EMTS to protect its alleged shareholding in EMTS.
The Court also upheld the defendant’s position that there was no privity of contract between EMTS and Spectrum as Spectrum was not a shareholder in EMTS and could not be said to have been directly affected by the actions of its shareholders – Mubadala Holdings Cyprus Ltd, Myacynth and Etisalat International Nigeria Ltd.

The court further upheld the defendant’s position that if at Spectrum had a right of action, its action should be against PTHNV, the company it originally invested in and not EMTS.

The court, therefore, upheld the submission of counsel to EMTS that not being a shareholder of EMTS, Spectrum lacked the locus standi to bring the suit against EMTS on the basis of any decision taken by the shareholders of EMTS.

The court, therefore, upheld the defendant’s prayers saying that Spectrum lacked the locus standi to sue, adding that the concept of “indirect shareholding/economic interest” claimed by Spectrum was unknown to Nigerian law, which only recognized members of a company as those named in its Register of Members.

Justice Aneke also held that Spectrum is not a party to the credit facilities which it claimed were unlawfully obtained, and its elementary law that only parties to a contract can make judicial claims in respect thereof.

The court, therefore, dismissed the suit in its entirety.

In his reaction to the ruling, the Company Secretary/Legal Adviser, 9mobile, Ore Olajide, said “this was victory for democracy, victory for the rule of law in Nigeria, victory for company law, victory for legal practitioners, victory for corporate lawyers, academia and students of law.

“9mobile will continue to focus on satisfying our numerous customers and stakeholders who have faith in us and have stayed the course with us”.

It is recalled that Spectrum Wireless Communications sued EMTS and 16 other defendants including United Capital Trustees Limited (‘the Lenders’), the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) over the sale of the telco.

The company claimed that it acquired indirect holding of 30 per cent of the shares of EMTS after a private placement and was allotted 4,041,096 Class A shares of Premium Telecommunications Holdings NV (“PTHNV”) which owns 99% of the shares in MyaCynth Coperative UA (“MyaCynth”).

The plaintiff also claimed that MyaCynth holds 30 per cent of the shares of EMTS BV
and EMTS BV, holds 99.9 per cent of the shares of EMTS and that EMTS’ syndicated loan from the 2nd to 4th defendant’s and was granted without the requisite statutory approval of the CBN, and can, therefore, not be enforced through the sale of EMTS’ shares and assets by the 2nd to the 14th defendants.

Spectrum also claimed that its investments in EMTS would be lost if 15th to 17th defendants were allowed to effect the sale of EMTS.

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FG moves to have Innoson boss arrested

The Federal Government, on Monday urged the Federal High Court in Lagos to issue a bench warrant against Innoson Nigeria Limited’s chairman Mr. Innocent Chukwuma and some of his employees.

They were charged in a fraud case before Justice Ayokunle Faji.

The Police had earlier charged them with an alleged N2.4billion shipping fraud, but the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami (SAN), later took over the case.

Others named in the charge are Charles Chukwuma, Maximian Chukwura, Mitsui Osk Lines and Anajekwu Sunny.

The prosecution is praying the court to order the arrest of Innoson Motors Chairman and his staff for failing to turn up to take their plea in the criminal charge.

On Monday, Chukwuma and his staff were absent in court.

Prosecuting Counsel Mr. Julius Ajakaiye moved an application urging the court to order the absent defendants’ arrested.

He said the charge was served on them through a court-ordered February 8, 2016 substituted service following the AGF’s take-over of the case.

Consequently, he said the defendants were yet to take their plea and should therefore be compelled to appear.

He added that an April 12, 2016 amended charge could not be served on the absent defendants.

Ajakaiye urged the court to grant his application by ordering their arrest.

But defence counsel Chief George Uwechue (SAN) and Prof. C. Mbadugha prayed the court to dismiss the application.

They argued that the court lacked jurisdiction to issue the warrant against the defendants “because they were not properly summoned before the court”.

They said the application offends Order 6 of the Federal High Court Civil Procedure Rules, adding that there was no proper service on their clients.

Justice Faji adjourned until July 3 for ruling.

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