Some Oil and Gas Free Zones firms are seeking judicial intervention in the alleged attempt by Oil and Gas Free Zones Authority (OGFZA) to regulate the oil and gas operations within Snake Island Integrated Free Zone (SIIFZ).
They have described the defendant’s plan to assume total control of space as “contemptuous’’.
The Nigerdock Nigeria Plc, Simco Freezone Company and Nigerdock Nigeria Plc-FZE in 2016 dragged OGFZA before the Federal High Court in Lagos seeking judicial intervention of its insistence to regulate oil and gas operations within SIIFZ.
The rest defendants in the suit are the Attorney-General of the Federation and the Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment.
Mr Qudus Mumumey, Counsel to the plaintiff in telephone interview in Abuja said that the last time the suit came up in court was on the Feb. 26
According to him, the suit is fixed for June 1 for definite hearing before Justice Aneke.
Mumumey also said that all the defendants in the suit were aware of the pendency of the suit having filed their responses and represented in court by counsel.
“In the light of the foregoing, the current letter from the Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment is contemptuous, abusive, oppressive and a clear attempt to undermine the authority of the Honourable Court’’, Mumumey said.
OGFZA, acting upon an uninformed directive of the Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment had served letters on all oil and gas free zones including SIIFZ informing them of its readiness to implement the minister’s directive which empowered the authority to assume full regulatory powers over those zones.
Recall that Nigerdock and others had by an Originating Summons filed at the Federal High Court in 2016 sought judicial intervention in the attempt made by OGFZA to regulate the oil and gas operations within SIIFZ.
The plaintiffs 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 administration of the Authority and management of all the 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.
The plaintiff are also seeking clarification whether by the letter from the Attorney General of the Federation captioned Re: Interpretation of the provisions of the Nigeria Export Processing Zones Act, Cap No 107, LFN, 2004 and Oil and Gas Export Free Zone Act, Cap 05, LFN 2004 as to which government agency is seized with responsibility over oil and gas free zone in Nigeria dated 25th March 2008, the Attorney General of the Federation did not merely reinstate the provisions of the NEPZA and OGFZA Act.
The plaintiff averred that if the answers to the above questions were in the affirmative, the court should not hesitate in granting a declaration that the Nigeria Export Processing Zone Authority (NEPZA) is responsible for the administration and regulation of the Snake Island Integrated Free Zone (SIIFZ).
They also are seeking the declaration that the first defendant is responsible for the administration and regulation of the Onne/Ikpokiri Export Free Zone and Oil and Gas Export Free Zones in Nigeria.
The suit further seeks a declaration that the letter from the Attorney General of the Federation dated March 25, 2008, merely reinstated the provisions of the NEPZA and OGFZA Acts.
The plaintiff, therefore, went ahead seeking an order of Perpetual Injunction restraining the defendants their privies, agents, and servants from projecting itself as the Authority with the statutory powers and authority to license and regulate the operations and activities in Snake Island Integrated Free Zone.
They also asked fora Perpetual Injunction restraining the defendants their privies, agents, and servants from interfering with, obstructing and/or disturbing the activities of SIMCO Free Zone Company from the Management of the Snake Island Free Zone pending the determination of the case.
By Martins Odey