Firms seek intervention over oil and gas free zones’ regulation

By Felix Khanoba

Firms operating in the oil and gas sector have called for intervention over the purported attempt by Oil and Gas Free Zones Authority (OGFZA) to roll out its regulation on oil and gas operations in Snake Island Integrated Free Zone (SIIFZ).

The firms, Nigerdock Nigeria Plc, Simco Freezone Company and Nigerdock Nigeria Plc-FZE, expressed serious concern over the latest plan by OGFZA to assume total control of activities in the zone.

The affected organisations had in 2016 dragged OGFZA before a Federal High Court in Lagos to seek judicial intervention that would prevent the Authority from regulating operations within SIIFZ.

The suit also has as defendants- the Attorney-General of the Federation and the Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment.

Speaking on the issue, counsel to the plaintiff, Mr Qudos Mumumey, who said the last time the suit came up in the court, presided by Justice Chukwujekwu Aneke, was February 26, revealed that 1st June has been fixed for definite hearing .

Mumumey, however, expressed dismay that OGFZA still went ahead to issue letters on implementing a ministerial directive that empowered the Authority to assume full regulatory powers over the zones, even when the case is still before the court.

He said OGFZA by issuing such letters acted upon an uninformed directive of the Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, adding that the move was a clear attempt to undermine the powers of the court.

The AUTHORITY reports that Nigerdock and others had by an Originating Summons filed at the Federal High Court in 2016 seek to know whether by the clear provisions of the Nigeria Export Processing Zone Act, Cap No. 107, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria 2004, Snake Island Integrated Free Zone (SIIFZ) should be regulated by the Nigeria Export Processing Zone Authority (NEPZA) being the Authority vested with the power to regulate all Export Processing Zones.

They further seek court determination on whether or not the Oil and Gas Free Zone Authority, by the Provision of the Oil and Gas Export Free Zone Act Cap 05, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria 2004, is empowered to regulate the Onne/Ikpokiri Export Free Zone and by extension regulate other Oil and Gas Export Free Zones in Nigeria, among others.

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