The Enugu Electricity Distribution Company (EEDC) has dragged an Anambra State – based human rights activist, Osita Obi to the Federal High Court, Awka, claiming N100m damage for protesting alleged poor power supply, estimated billing and failure to supply prepaid meters to consumers.
In the suit which is before Justice Nnamdi Dimgba, the electricity distribution company asked the court to declare as unlawful, the agitation and calls by the defendant.
According to the company’s lawyer, Mr. S C. Udemezue, under the Electric Power Sector Reform Act, number 6 of 2005, complaints 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.
But counsel to the defendant, Mr. Martin Obi argued that the court had no jurisdiction to hear matter, adding 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).
Obi 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.
“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.
The defendant’s lawyer subsequently demanded N3m compensation for his client, Osita Obi, in his counter claim.
The judge later adjourned the the matter to 22nd June.