A maritime practitioner, Mr. Lucky Amiwero has faulted the extension of the Oil and Gas Free Zone to Lagos and Warri saying that the development contravenes the spirit and letters of the Act establishing the Oil and Gas Free Zone Authority.
Amiwero who disclosed this in a letter he wrote to the President, Muhammadu Buhari also said that the imposition of single sourcing of Oil and Gas Logistics for INTELS was in clear contravention of various legal provisions with regards to Oil and Gas Free Zone and port operation.
He informed that the Oil and Gas Export Free Zone Act 8 of 1996 only designated the geographic area of Onne/Ikpokiri in Rivers State as the only Oil and Gas Free Zone in Nigeria as contained in section 1 (1), which he quoted thus: “The Head of State, Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces hereby, DESIGNATE THE ONNE/Ikpokiri area of Rivers State as an Export Free Zone, (in this Decree referred to as ‘the Export Free Zone’)”.
“The Act geographically confines the Oil and Gas Export Free Zone to ONNE/lkpokiri area of Rivers State, which is specified by the Act as (FREE ZONE) and not Zones, which by the provision of the Act, restricts any further designation/declaration of any area as an Oil and Gas Export Processing Zone in any Part of the country except ONNE/Ikpokiri.
“The set up of any other Oil and Gas Free Zone in the Country in Lagos, Warri etc, contravenes the provision of the Act No. 8 of 1996 that specifies the geographical location of Onne/Ikpokiri as the only designated site for Oil and Gas Export Free Zone as prescribed in section1-(l) of the Act. Any other set up of Oil and Gas Export Free Zone apart from the legally designated site in the Act contravenes the provision of the Act, which thereby invalidates the present existing Oil and Gas Free Zones in Warri, Lagos etc.”, he said.
Amiwero who is the National President of the National Council of Managing Directors of Licensed Customs Agents (NCMDLCA) further argued that the Port in ONNE was not a free port or special purpose port adding that it was like every other port or terminal in Nigeria under the jurisdiction of the Nigerian Ports Authority by function, operated by private operators like PTML that was under greenfield lease agreement, Port and Cargo, APM Terminals etc under concession agreement.
According to him,”Onne Port is contained in second schedule of the Port Act (section 30(2) part 1-(3) while the Free Zone function as contained in section 5(1) excludes the function of the port and is not tied to the Port by statute and cannot be linked or given special status. The Port of Onne is not a Free Port and has no legal preference to be designated as Oil and Gas Export Terminal based on established legal authorities that control both the Free Zone and the Port: (i) The Trade and Fiscal policy under the Customs, Excise, ETC, (Consolidation) Act No.4 of 1995, (ii) Oil and Gas Export Free Zone Act 1996, (iii) Nigeria Export Processing Zone Authority Act 63 of 1992 (iv) Nigeria Port Authority Act 38 of 1999.
“There is no provision in any legislation that designates Intels or any other facility in the country as an Oil and Gas Terminal or Port. This places all Port and Terminal operators in the country under the same operating environment based on existing legislation that authorized any Terminal Operator to handle any shipment of oil and gas at their facilities”.
He continued,”Single sourcing approvals that have been given by NAPIMS to the IOCs to exclusively utilize Intels facilities under the so called ‘Industry Wide Standard Tariff’, starting in 2004 and which have been extended this year to 2018 are serious contraventions. They are in contravention of the Port Tariff under the Port Act regulated by Nigerian Shippers’ Council as Economic Regulator on Port Tariff. NAPIMS has no statutory right to expand its jurisdiction into area it has no legal responsibility by usurping the functions and powers of other government agencies in the increase of port tariff on goods coming into the country’s ports. Such illegal action by NAPIMS contravenes the status of the agency saddled with the responsibility for the reduction and increase of port tariff.
“The Nigeria Oil and Gas Industry Content Development Act and other legislation are in conflict with NAPIMS, IOCs etc, on the following: (a) The illegal extension of Oil and Gas Export Processing Zone to Warri, Lagos etc in contravention of Section (1) that legally designate ONNE/Ikpokiri as the sole site for Oil and Gas Export Free Zone (b) The imposition of single sourcing of Oil and Gas Logistics to INTELS in contravention of Nigerian Oil and Gas Industry Development Act of 2010 (c) The approval of Industry Wide Standard Tariff by NAPIMS for Intels in contravention of the Port Act of 38 of 1999 (d) The Contravention of Nigerian Oil and Gas Industry Content Development Act Sections 3-(1)(2)(3)(e) The designation of non-existing Oil and Gas Terminal without provisions of the law and (f) The Economic implication is the huge employment bracket across the country created by lack of adherence to the provision of the law and due process”.
He therefore requested that the provisions as contained in all the referred legislations should be complied with for the benefit of the economy in the generation of massive employment and the creation of wealth for the nation.
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