The Oil and Gas Free Zones Authority, OGFZA, has issued a 30 day ultimatum to operating Oil and Gas zones in the country to henceforth revert to it in respect of all their operations as stated in the Act establishing the Authority.
The directive, contained in a letter dated 17 November 2016 and addressed to the managing directors of Lagos Deep offshore and Logistics Services Limited, LADOL, and Snake Island Integrated Free Zone, SIIFZ, the chief executive officer of OGFZA, Mr. Umana Okon Umana said the oil and gas free zones has, “decided to carry out the full implementation of the law and (federal government) directives” which vest control of the oil and gas free zones in the country in OGFZA.
Throwing further light on the directive at a press conference in Lagos, Mr. Adekunle Ajayi, OGFZA head of operations and technical, disclosed that in spite of the extant provisions of the law and government directives compliance with respect to a number of Oil and Gas Free Zones was not forthcoming.
“Because of non-compliance by a few Oil and Gas Free Zones, OGFZA on 7 February 2008 sought the interpretation of the provisions of the NEPZA Act and OGFZA Act from the Honourable Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice as to which of the two agencies was vested with the responsibility of regulating the Oil and Gas Free Zones in Nigeria” Ajayi said.
According to him, on March 25, 2008, the Attorney General cleared the air when he stated that the Nigeria Export Processing Zones Authority is expected to concentrate on its functions as provided in Section 4 of the NEPZA Act while OGFZA should have jurisdiction over Oil and Gas Free Zones in the country.
He said in line with the contemplation of the 1996 Act, NEPZA in accordance with section 5 (2) of the OGFZA Act 1996, is expected to hand over to the OGFZA, all functions being hitherto performed by it as they relate to the Export of Oil and Gas from any of the Nigeria Export Processing Zones and Free Zones in Nigeria.
He therefore noted that it was as a result of the interpretation that OGFZA has taken the step to implement the law and the various directives of the government with regard to regulatory control of the Oil and Gas Free Zones in the country.
Ajayi further explained that the takeover was in part an implementation of the federal government directive as contained in the Extraordinary Government Gazette, No. 12 (Vol.101) of February 2014 entitled “Free Zones (Monitoring & Regulations) Order 2014” Section 1 (a) (b) of the gazetted Order which states that, “As from the commencement of this Order, the Authority (OGFZA), in addition to its functions under the Act, shall be responsible for,
Licensing of all Oil and Gas Free Zones located within the Customs territory, and publication of all operating standards to be observed in the Free Zone from time to time.