02 June 2015, Lagos – Oil Marketing and Trading (OM&T) companies, as well as depots and jetty owners have accused officials of the Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR) of extortion in the issuance of licenses and permits to the operators.
Some of the marketers, who spoke to THISDAY on condition of anonymity for fear of victimisation, said officials of the regulatory agency collect exorbitant fees for licensing and renewal of permits, which are far above official fees.
“The official fees we pay to the federal government for licensing of depots, filling stations, lubricant retailers’ licenses, lube plants, among others, are very okay but DPR official collect excess charges, which are not receipted. The official fees in the receipts are ridiculously low but what we pay is very huge,” one of the operators confirmed to THISDAY.
“Government’s searchlight is always on the NNPC but DPR has the same transparency issues,” he added.
One of the marketers told THISDAY that the officials of the DPR deliberately refused to review their fees upwards to reflect the current realities of the modern times so that some corrupt officials would enrich their pockets.
“They are using old rate that is obsolete. That is the official fee paid to the government but what they actually collect is very exorbitant, which does not go into the government coffers. I think they deliberately refused to review it so that they enrich themselves. May be, it is the government that is supposed to review it,” he said.
He urged President Muhammadu Buhari to probe the activities of the DPR.
When confronted with these issues by THISDAY, the spokeswoman of DPR, Mrs. Dorothy Bassey declined to comment on these grave allegations.
Also, authorities of the regulatory agency failed to respond to a written enquiry from THISDAY.
However, a source within the agency blamed the development on the obsolete laws in Nigeria’s oil and gas industry.
“The laws that stipulate the fees for these licenses and permits are very old laws. So, naturally, the fees are relatively low, compared to what is obtainable in modern times. The organisation does not encourage staff to collect above the statutory fees but one cannot rule out elements of corruption,” said the official.
He noted that the issue of licensing filling stations is governed by an old Petroleum Decree of 1977, which contains all the procedures for the licensing.
“So, the laws are very old,” he added.
THISDAY gathered that the DPR is statutorily charged with the responsibility of issuing licenses and permits for bunkering, export permit, filling stations, lubricant retailers licenses, petroleum products import, depots, pipelines, lube plants, refining and hydrocarbon processing plants, among other fees paid in the upstream sector.
While some of these fees are paid into the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), others are paid into JP Morgan Chase Bank.
– This Day