A Federal High Court, Abuja, on Friday, ordered parties in a suit filed over the raging controversy on the alleged takeover of the Abuja Electricity Distribution Plc (AED Plc) to maintain status quo pending the next date of hearing.
In effect, the interim management put in place will have to stand down until the court rules otherwise.
Justice Inyang Ekwo, who gave the order following an ex-parte motion moved by counsel to the plaintiffs, Etigwe Uwa, SAN, ordered that the defendants be put on notice of the processes filed in the suit within five days of making the order.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the plaintiffs; CEC Africa Investments Limited and KANN Utility Company Limited, in a suit marked: FHC/ABJ/CS/1557/2021, had sued the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) and Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) as 1st and 2nd defendants.
Also joined in the suit dated and filed on Dec. 8 include Bureau of Public Enterprise (BPE), Ministry of Finance, AEDC, United Bank for Africa (UBA) and United Capital Trustees Limited as 3rd to 7th defendants respectively.
The plaintiffs had sought an order restraining the AGF, CBN, BPE and Ministry of Finance from interfering with the operations and management of AEDC .
They sought an order, restraining the 1st to 4th defendants from taking any steps which may transfer or forfeit or reduce, or takeover or foreclose or dilute the 60 per cent shareholding of the 2nd plaintiff in AEDC in any manner or limit the 2nd plaintiff ability to exercise its full rights over the shares pending the hearing and determination of the matter.
After hearing the motion, Justice Ekwo ordered the parties to maintain status quo ante bellum pending the next date of hearing.
He adjourned the case until Dec. 20 for hearing of the motion on notice.
Recall that the Bureau of Public Enterprises (BPE) named the interim management team constituted for the Abuja Electricity Distribution Company (AEDC) Plc.
The constitution of the interim management board for the electricity distribution company followed last Tuesday’s suspension of the incumbent management over the alleged inability to meet the terms of its agreements and obligations with its bankers.
The board has a one-time Managing Director of the Transmission Company of Nigeria (TCN), Bada Akinwumi, as the new Managing Director, to lead the management of the AEDC till further notice.
Announcing the new interim board, the BPE in a statement in Abuja said other members included Sani Usman as the Chief Business Officer; Babajide Ibironke as Chief Finance Officer; Donald Etim as Chief Marketing Officer, and Femi Zachaeus as Chief Technical Officer.
BPE said NERC, the regulator in the power sector, has already approved the appointment of the interim management team for the company.
BPE quoted NERC Chairman, Sanusi Garba, as saying the change in management was pursuant to BPE’s review of nominees based on the context of business continuity framework of the Nigerian Electricity Supply Industry (NESI).
On Tuesday the erstwhile management team of the AEDC was removed at the end of a joint meeting between officials of the Federal Ministry of Power, NERC, BPE and representatives of the National Union of Electricity Employees (NUEE).
The meeting followed an industrial action by the workers’ union to protest alleged unpaid benefits and entitlements, including salaries, pension and gratuity as well as allowances.
The protest grounded normal operations of AEDC, resulting in the disruption of electricity supply in and around the franchise areas of the company, including parts of the Federal Capital Territory, Kogi, Nasarawa, Kaduna and Edo states.
At the end of the meeting, it was Minister of State for Power, Geddy Agba, said the interim board was appointed to manage the power distribution company till further notice.
The minister said the decision to remove the previous management and install a new one was based on the strength of legal processes established following the failure of the core investors in AEDC to meet its obligations spelled out in the loan agreement it entered with its bankers prior to the privatization programme in 2013.
▪︎Additional reports by NAN