12 February 2017, Sweetcrude, Lagos — A group, ‘4Betanija’ has petitioned the Nigerian Senate over moves by Intels to alter the law establishing the Oil and Gas Free Zone Authority, (OGEFZA), with a view to creating a monopoly in the logistics sub-sector of the industry.
In the petition, Coordinator of a Port Harcourt based Non-Governmental Organization, (NGO), Mr. David Iworima described the move to amend the bill on the oil and gas Export Free Zone Authority Act as an economic sabotage, illegal and, an attempt to undermine the Senate of the Federal
Iworima said that if the proposed amendment was allowed to succeed in its present form, it would undermine the integrity of the Senate, conflict with several existing laws and policies of the Federal Government and legitimise illegality that has been perpetuated over the years.
He explained that the current Act has been illegally altered as the authority has been polarised to be Free zones as against its original intent, known and called the Oil and Gas Free zone Authority.
Besides, Iworima also noted that the word Export
has also been expunged from the original name to suit the purpose of the promoters.
Part of the petition reads “Usurping the legislative powers of the National Assembly, OGEFZA illegally altered its name to read as follows – OIL AND GAS FREE ZONES AUTHORITY.
“The word “export” was deliberately deleted and the word “zone” was deliberately pluralised in direct contravention of an extant Act of the National Assembly without a formal amendment of same.
“The entire Act provides for the operations, management and activities of the Onne/Ikpokiri Export Free Zone alone.
“This clause clearly states that OGEFZA shall have power to take over functions of NEPZA as it relates “to the export of oil and gas from any of the Nigerian Export Processing Zones”.
“The clause itself states clearly that the only that OGEFZA can take over from NEPZA is the export of oil and gas”.
He further explained that none of the Free Zones that OGEFZA has sought to annex is involved in the export of oil and gas.
Iworima also said OGEFZA’s objective in unilaterally expanding its mandate is in furtherance of a desperate plot to entrench and legitimise the Intels/Orlean Invest monopoly that has distorted the oil and gas industry to the detriment of the economy of Nigeria.
“Over the years OGEFZA has used the cloak of “legality” to support the expansionist agenda of Intels/Orlean Invest to attempt to annex other Free Zones duly licensed and regulated by NEPZA.
“It is ludicrous and subversive that an agency with a limited and specific mandate over a single Free Zone would seek to acquire ownership and exercise jurisdiction over another agency that manages over 30 separate Free Zones. “
He however warned of the imminent danger of the development saying that “ On January 26, 2017 the Senate Committee on Trade and Investment held a public hearing in respect of the said Bill.
“Our involvement in the process leaves us with serious misgivings that the distinguished members of the Committee are being deviously misled and are at the risk of propelling the Senate into enacting legislation that would undermine the integrity of these hallowed chambers.
“The proposed Bill seeks to use the legislature as a tool to entrench the monopoly of one entity in the Nigerian oil and gas industry. Its effect would be to rubber stamp and endorse years of illegal and unconstitutional activity by the management of OGEFZA”.
It will recalled that importers and clearing agents abandoned Intels due to their monopolistic tendency.