PHCN privatisation weighed down by 300 court cases and N500 billion claims

by Stanley Azuakola

Nigeria’s president, Goodluck Jonathan has made no pretences about his desire to ensure that Nigerians begin to enjoy regular power supply while he is president.

In line with that, the president and his cabinet have been working hard to ensure that the privatisation of the Power Holding Company of Nigeria (PHCN) goes on without hitches. A major problem that might crop up as the privatisation talks reach advanced stages is how to resolve the more than 300 litigations against the PHCN, currently pending in various courts across the country.

The Nigeria Electricity Liability Management Ltd. (NELMCO) says that it would resolve them all before PHCN is privatised. On Thursday in Abuja, its managing director, Sam Agbogun, said that the company would ensure that all cases involving PHCN are settled to ensure smooth privatisation.

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However, doubts remain, considering that the power to dispense of the cases doesn’t entirely rest in the hands of NELMCO.

“We have lots of challenges that are not known to the public; there are more than 300 litigations in the court against PHCN,” Agbogun said. “Many people sue PHCN ,and on the other hand, PHCN sued some people; as I am talking to you now, the claims by some of these people, either for electrocution, illegal disconnection, or trespassing, is over N500 billion. But all these cases must be resolved and NELMCO will not allow any one case to remain unresolved; and there must be out of court settlement for each of these cases to enable a smooth privatisation.”

He mentioned inadequate funds as a major hindrance, as the PHCN has been unable to settle its creditors. He added that NELMCO was working with the ministries of Power, Finance, and the Budget Office to resolve the issue.

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