A group, National Council of Managing Directors of Licensed Customs Agents, (NCMDLCA) has petitioned President Muhammadu Buhari over the proliferations of Oil and Gas Free Zones across the country, a development the group described as “against the law establishing the zone”.
In a petition dated December 16th 2016, The group said the current legal instrument for the designation and establishment of Oil and Gas Export free zones has been bastardized.
The group added that the Oil and Gas Export Free Zone Act 8 of 1996 only designates the geographic area of Onne/Ikpokiri, Rivers State as the only Oil and Gas Free Zone in Nigeria as contained in section 1 (1).
The petition reads in part: “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 establishment 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”.
It states further: “Any other f 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.”
The freight forwarders said 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 group noted that the Port of Onne is not a Free Port and has no legal preference to be designated as Oil and Gas Export Terminal.