Reps Hold Investigative Hearing On Suspension Of IBEDC Board

 

The House of Representatives has held an investigative hearing into the suspension of the board of directors of Ibadan Electricity Distribution Company (IBEDC) allegedly by the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC).

Chairman of the House Committee on Power, Mr Dan Asuquo, presided over the session which took place on Wednesday at the National Assembly complex in Abuja.

He said the meeting was convened to tackle critical issues, including the operations and administrations of major stakeholders in the power sector.

The lawmaker emphasised the relationship between the sector and national development towards the prosperity of the nation.

He said, “If we are to grow as a people and deliver on our promises as a great nation, we just must fix the power sector.

“There is no other path to national growth and this is why we (the National Assembly) are passionate in playing our role as troubleshooters in the Nigerian electricity supply industry and to continually put off the fires here and there that threaten its growth and even its existence as a whole.”

Asuquo noted that the legislature would continue to intervene wherever issues that have adverse implications on the health and growth of the sector arise.

He highlighted the case of the suspension of “all executive and non-executive directors of IBEDC as one of such instances.

Chairman of the House Committee on Power, Mr Dan Asuquo

The committee chairman stressed that the Independent Power Producers (IPP) needs to consolidate the positions in the new post-reform market, saying a complicated market calls for an all-inclusive engagement from stakeholders.

He observed that it was on this note that the order of the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) purportedly dissolving the board of the IBEDC came as a source of concern to the National Assembly and Nigerians at large.

The lawmaker added that this prompted the House of Representatives to direct its Committee on Power to wade into the crisis with the aim of ensuring that the free market was protected.

While welcoming the officials of NERC, IBEDC, and others present at the session, he criticised the situation where the Minister of Power, Mr Babatunde Fashola, and officials from the ministry were absent.

Speaker of the House, Mr Yakubu Dogara, also informed the gathering that the session was convened following a motion brought before that House in which there were allegations of an unlawful act against IBEDC by NERC.

Dogara, who was represented by the Chief Whip of the House, Alhassan Doguwa, noted that the electricity sector occupies a prime position in the nation’s economy and the well-being of its people.

He described the sector as the bedrock on which a sustainable economic development is built, saying it contributes immensely to the prosperity of a nation.

The Speaker recalled that the House had set up an ad-hoc committee in June to investigate an alleged breach of constitution by an electricity company in the Niger Delta region, while another was set up to curb excessive estimated electricity charges levied on consumers by electricity distribution companies.

He, however, said the decision of the NERC was not in line with the law and there were concerns that regulatory best practices might have been compromised or violated in the process.

Dogara also noted that such move was capable of scaring away genuine investors from the country, saying the essence of the investigation was to enable the lawmakers to arrive at the real fact of the matter.

But the hearing suffered a setback when the Chairman of NERC, Professor James Momoh, informed the matter that they were not at liberty to speak on the matter as it was already in court.

NERC senior officials led by the chairman, Professor James Momoh (middle)

Professor Momoh said, “IBEDC had filed a suit in the Federal High Court, Abuja, and we were served this order on June 27, 2018. Based on the letter sent to IBEDC on June 19, 2018, parties have appeared in court and the case is still in court. We have been advised that this hearing will be considered to be against the court order.”

He noted that the court had fixed October 15 to hear the matter while all parties were asked to wait for the court to determine the next action.

The NERC Chairman, however, said they have submitted a detailed report which captures the position of the commission to the House Committee.

In his response, the Committee Chairman said the NERC was not only answerable to the Nigerian people but also to its parliament, stressing that the organisation came into existence by the act of parliament.

He then clarified that the session was not to interfere with the court process but to ensure that the laws made by the National Assembly were properly adhered to while the heads of various organisation act within the limit of the law.

Asuquo consequently directed that the session return into an executive session behind closed-door, saying the second part of the motion which brought about the hearing stated that they should investigate the stability of the market itself.

NERC Issues Licences To Power Ariaria Market In Abia

 

 

Nigeria’s largest indigenous entrepreneurial facility, popularly known as the Ariaria market in Abia state, may soon overcome decades of inadequate electricity that hampers the output of thousands of Nigerians working and trading at the multi-million dollar hub.

The Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) on Wednesday announced that licenses have been issued for the generation and distribution of 9.5 megawatts of electricity to serve the Ariaria market in Aba.

The new licenses were issued to ”Ariaria Market Independent Power Plant Limited” and ”Ariaria Independent Energy Distribution Network Limited”

Ariaria market is West Africa’s largest hub of entrepreneurs who produced goods that are distributed across West and central African countries.

Power Supply: Ambode Seeks NERC’s Approval For 3,000MW Project

Lagos To Begin Airport Road Reconstruction In September
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The Lagos State Governor, Mr. Akinwunmi Ambode is seeking approval from the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) for the Embedded Power Programme, by the state government.

The government in a meeting with some members of the State Executive Council lawmakers and stakeholders at the NERC’s head office in Abuja, stated that the Embedded Power Project was designed as his administration’s flagship programme for direct intervention in the power value chain, in achieving a 24 – hour steady power supply in Lagos.

He said the proposed power programme would generate up to 3,000MW of power through accelerated deployment of various power plants in strategic locations across the State by private sector power providers within three to six years.

In a press statement by the Chief Press Secretary to the givernor, Habib Aruna, he noted that Nigerians’ aspiration to create a secured and prosperous nation that is globally competitive will be difficult to achieve without stable power supply.

According to the governor, efforts are ongoing to resolve the power crisis, it had become increasingly clear that the problems in the energy sector could no longer be left to the Federal Government alone to solve.

“Embedded power was designed as our flagship programme for direct intervention in the power value chain towards achieving a 24-hour power for Lagos. Lagos State has always demonstrated its capacity and willingness to play a leading role in resolving the power sector challenges in the state, subject to the limit of the federal authority allowed regulations.

“Having succeeded in powering government facilities, the next level of intervention for our government is to collaborate with other stakeholders in the power sector to design and implement a roadmap for uninterrupted power supply to homes and businesses in Lagos State.

“The draft of the Lagos State Embedded Power Bill was finalised in May 2017 and submitted to the National Electricity Regulatory Commission for clearance before same can be forwarded to the State House of Assembly.

“The stakeholders meeting holding today is a continuation of the ongoing engagement between NERC and the Lagos State Government on the Lagos State Embedded Power Programme.

“We are convinced that the offer by our government to deploy the state’s balance sheet in support of power generation, transmission, distribution, gas supply, metering, collection and enforcement in Lagos State will significantly relieve the national grid and free more energy for distribution to other parts of Nigeria.

“The proposed power programme will generate up to 3,000MW of power through accelerated deployment of various power plants in strategic locations across the state by private sector power providers within three to six years.”

He said the State Government would issue guarantees in support of the Power Purchase Agreements that will be signed between the distribution companies and the private sector embedded power providers to enhance bankability of the projects.

He added that the power generated under the programme will be distributed through the networks of Eko and Ikeja Distribution Companies while the state would support the distribution companies in upgrading their distribution infrastructure for embedded power areas in line with NERC guidelines.

“The State Government will support the distribution companies in installation of smart prepaid meters in the areas where embedded power is deployed. We will institute a cost-reflective tariff regime that is fair to all stakeholders, sustainable and capable of attracting private capital to the sector on a continuous basis.

“Other areas of collaboration include support for revenue collection, legislation and establishment of an agency for enforcement of power theft laws in Lagos.

“Our prayer today is to seek the commission’s no objection letter for the Lagos State Embedded Power Programme, based on cost reflective tariff regime that is fair to all parties and capable of unlocking private sector investments into the power sector on a sustainable basis,” the Governor said.

Responding, the NERC’s Commissioner in charge of Legal License and Compliance, Dafe Akpeneye, who stood in for the Commission’s Vice Chairman, promised that the NERC would work with the Lagos State Government to ensure the success of the programme.

“Within the ambit of the law and existing regulations, you have our unflinching support in this project.

“So in response to what you said in your prayers to us, Your Excellency, I reaffirm the support of NERC towards this project. Our commitment is to create a viable electricity industry that works for Nigeria and Nigerians.

“As the laws and regulations permit us, we will work with you on this project to ensure that it does see the light of the day,” Akpaneye promised.

Akpeneye however called the Governor’s attention to some safety issues that concern the state.

He spoke about the right of way, standards and designs, electricity theft as well as customers’ enumeration.

He noted that a situation where the Commission’s record indicates that there are only 1.2million registered electricity customers in Lagos State is not tidy enough when almost all the houses in the state are connected to national grid.

Representatives of both Eko and Ikeja Distribution Companies at the meeting declared their support for the project, saying that it would be detrimental to the progress of Nigeria if they opposed it.

NERC Suit: Appeal Court Orders Re-Assignment Of Case

Alleged N29bn Fraud: Court Admits More Evidence Against Nyako
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The Court of Appeal in Lagos has ordered the Chief Judge of the Federal High Court to re-assign a suit on electricity tariff to a new judge for adjudication.

The Appeal Court held that Justice Mohammed Idris, who heard the case, violated the appellant’s right to fair hearing and thereby committed “a grave error”.

An activist-lawyer Toluwani Adebiyi had sued the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) over the purported planned increase in electricity tariff.

Justice Idris had made an interim order that status quo be maintained in the suit. The order, in effect, barred NERC from increasing the tariff.

NERC, through its lawyer, Anthony Idigbe, however, filed a motion on notice seeking to discharge the interim order.

In his ruling, Justice Idris dismissed NERC’s application for being filed outside the seven days prescribed by the court’s rules.

The judge similarly dismissed NERC’s preliminary objection on the basis that it was also filed out of time. Dissatisfied, the Commission appealed to challenge Justice Idris’ ruling.

Delivering judgments in the appeals on Monday, Justice Abraham Georgewill held that Justice Idris misused his powers of discretion.

The appeal court held that Justice Idris “approbated and reprobated” when he heard NERC’s application to regularise its processes, and still set aside the appellant’s motion to discharge the interim order.

Justice Georgewill said Justice Idris relied on technicality in denying NERC of a fair hearing, thereby occasioning a miscarriage of justice.

“The trial court accorded undue reverence and relevance to technicality. The era of technical justice is gone in our courts, substantial justice is key,” the judge said.

Holding that NERC’s motion on notice seeking to discharge the ex-parte order was competent, Justice Georgewill held: “A breach of right to fair hearing renders the entire proceedings a nullity”.

He further held that Justice Idris “engaged in injudicious and capricious exercise of discretion, which is a flagrant breach of Section 36 of the 1999 Constitution”.

“This is a clear case of travesty of justice to hear the plaintiff’s case after striking out the motion on notice to discharge the order, the law should take its cause. The court below failed to observe the principle of fair hearing which is a rule of natural justice. The right to fair hearing is not a cosmetic right, it is a fundamental right. While justice need not be delayed, it need not be rushed; the appeal hereby succeeds.

“The case is consequently remitted to the lower court for another judge to determine the case as may be assigned by the Chief Judge. Going by the grave error of the court below, the motion on notice is remitted for same to be heard and determined expeditiously; the appeal has merit. The entire proceedings of the lower court are hereby set aside. There shall be no order as to court,” Justice Georgewill.

The Appeal Court also upheld appeals by NERC and the Distribution Companies (DISCOs) challenging the dismissal of its preliminary objection.

It, however, dismissed an appeal filed by Zikglass Networks Ltd, describing the company as a “meddlesome interloper”.

“That a person is a party to a suit does not mean he has the right to appeal a decision which has not affected him, that will be a mere academic exercise. This is a needless appeal which did not raise any question for determination. The appeal is completely an abuse of court process and is hereby dismissed,” the judge held.

FG To Sanction DISCOs For Flouting Metering Mandate

Minister of Power, Works and Housing, Babatunde Fashola has mandated the National Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) to sanction any DISCO that fails to meet up with its metering commitment.

Speaking at the 16th monthly meeting of operators in the electricity industry, at the Ugwuaji 330/132 Kv Transmission Station, Enugu State, Mr Fashola said the Federal Government has zero tolerance for DISCOs who extort customers and sabotage the effort of the government in fighting corruption in all sectors.

“NERC as the regulator has been mandated to ensure that DISCOs implement the commitment they made to this meeting that they will meet a certain minimum threshold of metering. NERC should hold them accountable and sanction those who have not met the threshold.”

Mr Fashola further stated that he has gotten a lot of complaints about some DISCOs disconnecting those who have prepaid meters.

“For now I will keep the names of those DISCOs out of the media but next month if nothing is done by those DISCOs to address these issues I will publish their names.”

He also noted that the Federal Government is progressing in its road map to increase power across the country and appealed to the public to extend the Whistle Blowing Policy to power theft.

NERC Job: Professor Akinwande To Honour Screening After MIT Clearance

NERC, Professor Akintunde AkinwandeNominated Chairman of Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC), Professor Akintunde Akinwande, says he will honour an invitation for screening by the Nigerian Senate after clearing with his current employer, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), USA.

A statement by the President’s spokesman, Femi Adesina, disclosed that Professor Akinwande had said he did not turn down the offer by President Muhammadu Buhari.

According to Adesina, the declaration is contained in a letter dated October 26, 2016, addressed to the Chairman of the Senate Committee on Power, Steel Development and Metallurgy, Senator Enyinnaya Abaribe and sent through the Special Adviser to the President on National Assembly Matters, Senator Ita Enang.

The letter reads in part: “News reports in Nigeria that I have rejected President Buhari’s nomination to be Chairman of Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission have been brought to my attention.

“I have the greatest respect for President Buhari. I am fully behind the change he has brought and is bringing to the way government business is conducted in Nigeria.

“I am deeply honoured that Mr President and his team thought me worthy for this important national assignment and sought me out for it.

“I am a tenured professor of electrical engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

“As such, I am contractually constrained to seek formally the consent of the university for a leave of absence before presenting myself to the Senate for screening and if confirmed take on the assignment.”

Professor Akinwande apologised to the Senate Committee for not showing up for the screening process scheduled for Tuesday, October 25, noting that it was not out of disrespect for the institution.

The academic said he would be available for the screening after clearance from the MIT.

BEDC Decries Court’s Ruling On Electricity Tariff

Electricity, BEDC, Electricity TariffThe Benin Electricity Distribution Company (BEDC) has criticised the judgement of a Federal High Court in Lagos which declared the present electricity tariff system being used by the 11 distribution companies in Nigeria void.

The Manager, Corporate Affairs, BEDC, Tayo Adekunle, stated this on Monday during an interview with Channels Television at the company’s headquarters in Benin City, the Edo State capital in south-south Nigeria.

He said that the court’s decision was inimical to the progress of the power sector.

However, a civil rights activist, Omobude Agho, has lauded the judgement of the court.

He accused the distribution companies of exploiting Nigerians with the new price regime.

The Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) had in an earlier interview on Channels Television’s Sunrise Daily, discredited claims that it flouted the court’s injunction on the tariff increase.

The commission noted that the lack of understanding of the privatisation and reform policy was responsible for the reactions that have trailed the electricity tariff increase.

Tariff Hike: NERC Insists Court Order Not Flouted

NERC-Abdulkadir-Shettima-Court-ElectricityThe Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) has said that it did not go against the court’s injunction on electricity tariff increase.

The Deputy General Manager, Head, Tariff and Rates of NERC, Mr Abdulkadir Shettima, said this on Sunrise Daily.

“We don’t think we did. In our understanding (of) the court order, the plaintiff  didn’t sue as a class action, he sued on his behalf.

“For instance I am a customer, you are a customer (and) nobody consulted me. I personally feel that action by the plaintiff is going to set the industry back, it’s going to put problems or delay in getting electricity,” he said.

Understanding The Policy

The NERC official told Channels Television on Monday that the lack of understanding of the privatisation and reform policy was responsible for the reactions that have trailed the electricity tariff increase.

He said that the commission was yet to receive a certified copy of the judgement, insisting that all the required processes in the law were followed.

“I think it is lack of understanding from the policy behind this privatisation, the reform, and the growth of the electricity industry.

“The point is that we believed the person sued in his own capacity and his tariff was not increased. So we don’t believe that we flouted the injunction,” Shettima said.

Electricity Tariff Suit: Court To Rule May 31

Electricity The Federal High Court Sitting in Lagos has fixed May 31 to rule on the preliminary objections filed by the Eko Electricity Distribution Company, The Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission and the Attorney General of the Federation.

They are all listed as defendants in a suit filed by some aggrieved residents of Itire, Ijesa and Ikate communities in Surulere area of Lagos State.

The resident staged a peaceful protest in court on Monday to condemn the high electricity tariffs which they say does not match supply.

Justice Saliu Saidu has listened to the objections of the defendants who have challenged the jurisdiction of the court to hear the suit.

Counsel to the plaintiffs, however, said that the Federal Government needs to review the privatization process.

Power Generation Hits 4,000 Megawatts

PowerElectricity supply through the national grid is now ramping up as it attains 4,387 megawatts peak generation as at Friday, March 4, 2016 with a prospect for further improvement in power supply situation.

The Head, Public Affairs Department at the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC), Dr. Usman Abba Arabi, said that this is following successful repair work on the damaged gas facility earlier in the week.

“It would be recalled that the peak generation level that notched epoch 5,070 megawatts few weeks ago suddenly nosedived due to inadequate gas supply on the main gas pipeline supplying many of the power stations.

“This was on account of gas supply shortage due to inability to evacuate condensates and oil produced with the gas because the main oil export pipeline out of Forcados was vandalized two weeks ago.

“However, with the successful repair work on the damaged facility, the system is now ramping up as it attains 4,387 megawatts peak generation as at Friday, March 4, 2016,” he said.

The acting Chief Executive Officer, Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC), Dr. Anthony Akah, has subsequently appealed to members of the public to cooperate with electricity industry operators and security agencies to stem the recent incident of vandalism on electricity installation.

He also warned the electricity distribution companies that the momentary downturn in supply should not be used to exploit unmetered electricity customers on estimated billing saying, “Customer bills for unmetered customers should be as accurate as possible and reflect their actual consumption. It shall in no circumstance be arbitrarily inflated.”

According to him, “The reduction in power supply when it lasted affects both metered and unmetered customers. For metered customers the drop in their consumption will be captured by their meter. For unmetered customers it is imperative that estimated bills during this period are reflective of their actual consumption.”

He further directed electricity distribution companies that unmetered and estimated customers have the right and option to pay current estimated electricity billing based on their last undisputed bill where there are concerns with the current estimated electricity bills.

He said that electricity distribution companies should ensure diligence and professionalism in the estimation of unmetered customers based on the provisions of the Billing Estimation Methodology Regulations, 2012.

He hinted that the Commission has deployed monitoring teams to report any act of negligence and extortion.

Court Re-affirms Existing Order Against Electricity Tariff Increase

Electricity-meter electricity tariff increaseA Federal High Court in Lagos has re-affirmed the existing order restraining the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) from implementing any upward review of electricity tariff.

While delivering a ruling on Monday on the objections of the NERC to a contempt charge against them, Justice Mohammed Idris asked the NERC to abide by the court order pending the hearing and final determination of a suit filed by a lawyer and rights activist, Toluwani Adebiyi, over the issue.

The plaintiff, Mr Adebiyi had sought to commit the NERC Chairman and the CEOs of the Distribution Companies (Discos) to prison for announcing the implementation of the new electricity tariff despite a subsisting court order barring same.

In his ruling, Justice Idris said: “Let me warn that when the disciplinary jurisdiction of this court is properly invoked, anyone who is found to have ignored the order of the court will be dealt with severely. The order of this court that parties in this suit should maintain the status quo remains valid and binding until it is set aside by a court of competent jurisdiction”.

“The issue of disobedience to court’s order is one that affects the integrity of the court. There is a need for the court to assert its authority and deal with any issue that is capable of bringing it to disrepute. Those who intend to take the judicial system for a ride should think twice and those who have done so should retrace their steps, the long arm of the law will catch up with them no matter how long it takes,” he further stressed.

Justice Idris had earlier in his ruling set aside the Form 49 and the motion for committal to prison filed against the defendants by the plaintiff.

The judge held that the issuance of form 49 on the defendants by the plaintiff without prior and proper service of form 48 was premature.

“In the circumstance, I hold that the defendant’s objection has merit. The court has set aside the contempt application due to fundamental and procedural irregularities,” the judge said.

The court has since adjourned till March 15 for hearing of all pending applications.

Adebiyi’s Substantive Suit

Mr Adebiyi, in the substantive suit, is seeking an order restraining NERC from implementing any upward review of electricity tariff without a meaningful and significant improvement in power supply at least for 18 hours in a day in most communities in Nigeria.

He also wants an order restraining NERC from foisting compulsory service charge on pre-paid meters not until “the meters are designed to read charges per second of consumption and not a flat rate of service not rendered or power not used”.

He also wants the service charge on pre-paid meters not to be enforced until there is visible efficient and reliable power supply like those of foreign countries where the idea of service charge was borrowed.

Adebiyi is further asking for an order of court mandating the NERC to do the needful and generate more power to meet the electricity use of Nigerians, adding that the needful should include and not limited to a multiple long-term financing approach, sourced from the banks, capital market, insurance and other sectors of finance to power the sector.

Finally, the lawyer is asking the court to mandate the NERC to make available to all Nigerians within a reasonable time of maximum of two years, prepaid meters as a way to stop the throat-cutting indiscriminate estimated bill and which must be devoid of the arbitrary service charge, but only chargeable on power consumed.

In an affidavit in support of the suit personally deposed to by the applicant, the lawyer lamented that despite the motto and mission of NERC which were expressly stated as “keeping the light on and to meet the needs of Nigeria for safe, adequate, reliable and affordable electricity,” most communities in Nigeria do not get more than 30 minutes if electricity supply, while the remaining 23 hours and 30 minutes were always without light and in total darkness.

“Nigeria poor masses are paying an estimated and indiscriminate residential bills ranging from 5, 000 Naira to 18, 000 Naira, spending an average of 15, 000 Naira to 20, 000 Naira for fuel to maintain generating set.

“Businesses have collapsed, industries have closed down, and residents cannot sleep comfortably at night due to inefficiency of our power industry”.

“Companies and commercial Houses are groaning under throat-cutting power bill which they are paying for, yet not getting the benefit for such payment,” Adebiyi stated.

He stressed that the proposed increase in electricity tariff was coming amidst the tangled web of poor power supply with no reasonable proof of improvement.

“The situation is self-evident, it readily speaks for itself because everyone is suffering from poor power outrage.

“Bringing further increase amidst this tangled web of hardship and without any improvement in power supply, will be highly unjustifiable and will be an economic burden on Nigeria populace. It is totally absurd and not for the good of the people, and therefore must be stopped,” Adebiyi submitted.

Electricity Tariff: NERC Has Not Lived Up To Expectation – Expert

David AderibigbeA Power Expert has faulted the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) and the Distribution Companies (DISCOs) over increments in the electricity tariff.

Mr David Aderibigbe was speaking on Channels Television’s Sunrise Daily on Wednesday.

“There are conditions and variables that must be affected in the economy before you can have a minor or major increment in the electricity tariff.

“The minor review involves: exchange rate, variability inflation, gas pricing and perhaps, the cost of generation and transmission,” he said.

The Professor of Mechanical Engineering suggested that the DISCOs should have rated the increase in a particular direction.

“I think there is nothing much to do other than working on the rate of increase which must be in a particular direction. What would be the government’s policy so that the consumers will benefit from it?, what would be the government’s policy with regards to the responsibility of the operators and what should be the responsibility of the consumers?,” he asked.

Fixed Charge Component of Electricity Tariff
Fixed Charge Component of Electricity Tariff

Speaking further on if due process was followed before the increment of the electricity tariff, the Power Expert said that “the issue of due process is more of consultation.

“The increment has been established by the law since the prorogation of the ESPRA act in 2005. The ESPRA act boarders on the multi-year tariff order that  regulates the pricing in the electricity tariff.

“It was put in place to ensure that the investors or the DISCOs were able to make back their investment.

“The basis was that there couldn’t have been a step change from cost reflective tariff that we were trying to move to at that time,” he explained.