Investors flare OGEFZA’s ‘economic sabotage,’ want FG’s investigation
Investors in Oil and Gas Free Zones have urged the Federal Government to urgently investigate the Okon Umana-led Management of Oil and Gas Export Free Zones Authority, OGEFZA, over alleged “fraudulent misrepresentation” of the agency and “economic sabotage” of the country.
The stakeholders, in a statement released in Abuja, alleged that OGEFZA was trying to sabotage the economy of Nigeria by creating chaos among investors in the Nigeria Export Processing Zones Authority, NEPZA-approved Free Zones, which may lead to investors pulling out.
They alleged that there were attempts by the Umana Okon Umana-led Management of OGEFZA to take over the operations of some free zones already within the regulatory control of NEPZA without recourse to due process or any legislative amendment to that effect.
According to them, failure of the federal government to investigate the matter is capable of bringing its name and integrity into utter disrepute as it will appear that OGEFZA has the backing and endorsement of the government in carrying out its unwholesome activities.
They noted that the Oil and Gas Export Free Zone Act Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2010 unambiguously established Oil and Gas Export Free Zone Authority, OGEFZA, to manage and operate a designated Oil and Gas Export Free Zone at Onne/Ikpokiri area of Rivers State.
“Since the enactment of the Act, there has been no amendment to the Act by the National Assembly either by changing Oil and Gas Export Free Zone Authority to Oil and Gas Free Zones Authority (which is the current name being used by the Umana Okon Umana led Management of OGEFZA) or extending the regulatory jurisdiction of OGEFZA beyond the designated Oil and Gas Export Free Zone at Onne/Ikpokiri area of Rivers State of Nigeria.
“Despite the fact that the provisions of the Act have not been amended and the law still restricts the regulatory functions of OGEFZA to Onne/Ikpokiri area of Rivers State, the Umana Okon Umana led Management of OGEFZA has continued to violate the express provisions of the Act by licensing other Free Zones like Brass Oil and Gas City, Warri Oil and Gas Free Zone, Eko Support Services etc which are located outside the designated Oil and Gas Export Free Zone at Onne/Ikpokiri area of Rivers State,” they said.
The stakeholders further alleged that the management of OGEFZA has consistently misrepresented the organisation to the general public and in several public fora with government officials in attendance as Oil and Gas Free Zones Authority, OGFZA.
They added that the management has “unilaterally, illegally and deliberately expunged from the name of OGEFZA the word “Export” and replaced the word “Zone” with “Zones” contrary to the extant legislation of the National Assembly of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.”
“If this reckless and unlawful act being perpetrated by the Umana Okon Umana led Management of OGEFZA is not checked timeously by the Federal Government, it will have the tendency to mislead and deceive the unsuspecting general public and investors at large who do not have the historical background of OGEFZA.”
They further stated that the management was usurping the powers of the courts, stating that the only constitutionally recognized authority saddled with the responsibility of interpretation of laws in Nigeria remains the Judiciary.
“Any attempt by any person or authority to usurp the constitutional role of the court as is being attempted by the Umana Okon Umana led Management of OGEFZA should be outrightly rebuked and investigated in the interest of Nigeria’s democracy, good governance and more importantly the rule of law.
“Should there be any need for regulatory review, the operators within the Free Zones licensed by NEPZA would make adequate representation to the appropriate authorities.
“At the moment, stakeholders within the industry have not complained about the existing legislative framework pursuant to which billions of dollars in investments have been committed by financial institutions (both local and foreign) and other trade partners,” they said.
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